For the second consecutive week, the Patriots were the beneficiaries of NFL replay overturning a would-be touchdown catch.
Kelvin Benjamin appeared to haul in a fade pass from Tyrod Taylor on the penultimate play of the first half in Foxborough. Benjamin dragged his left foot after controlling the football and it actually made contact with his other foot in bounds, sending blades of grass in the air.
But the NFL said Benjamin’s left foot was off the ground when he gained control, hence an incomplete pass. It certainly wasn’t indisputable evidence to overturn the call on the field, which is supposed to be the standard.
“Regarding the Buffalo no touchdown, nothing more irritating to an official than to make a great call and then someone in a suit in an office in New York incorrectly reverses it,” former VP of officiating and current FOX rules analyst Mike Pereira tweeted. “It is more and more obvious that that there isn’t a standard for staying with the call on the field.”
The man in charge of the New York remote replay center, Al Riveron, has increasingly come under fire in his first season. Last week the Patriots won an instant classic at Heinz Field marred by controversy after Jesse James’ apparent game-winning touchdown was overturned because replay review determined he didn’t complete the catch.
Other high-profile instances this season include Bears TE Zach Miller’s touchdown getting overturned on a play in which he suffered a potential career-ending knee injury and Jets TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins having his touchdown, also vs. the Patriots, taken away in Week 6 when replay determined he fumbled despite the ball never touching the ground.
To be clear: we don't think the Patriots — the same team robbed of a four-time MVP for four games to begin last season due to a farce suspension — are part of any NFL conspiracy. Rather, we agree with Pereira — the league clearly has gotten away from its indisputable standard for overturning calls on the field, and it's ruining the game.
Like last week in Pittsburgh, the Patriots are involved in a heavyweight fight with the Bills, who must win their final two games and get help to snap the NFL's longest postseason drought. The two teams are tied at 16 apiece a little more than midway through the third quarter. Buffalo settled for a field goal to tie the game at intermission, a four-point swing after Benjamin's touchdown was taken away. If the Patriots win by fewer than four points, the NFL's latest misstep will be scrutinized even more.