It was a valiant effort in Seattle but ultimately the Buffalo Bills came up short, falling 31-25 to the Seahawks. It was an entertaining, back and forth affair that went down to the wire. That said, a controversial sequence at the end of the first half has a lot Bills fans frustrated at the end result.
With all that in mind, here are the biggest takeaways for the Bills from Monday night’s clash in the Pacific Northwest.
Buffalo Bills Week Nine Takeaways
The Tyrod Taylor–Robert Woods Connection
Despite the loss, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor turned in an impressive performance in front of a national audience. Seattle came into this game boasting the NFL‘s ninth-best passing offense, averaging 229 yards allowed through the air per game. The sixth-year man out of Virginia Tech finished the game with 289 yards and a touchdown on 27 of 38 passing. His 71.1 percent completion percentage was the highest of the season.
Much has been made about how banged up the Bills receiving corps has been this year. Sammy Watkins aside, they’ve slowly but surely gotten healthier over the past few weeks. In particular, Robert Woods was all clear after dealing with a foot injury.
Woods would become Taylor’s go-to guy Monday night. He ended up with ten catches for a career-high 162 yards even though he was unable to find the end zone. Perhaps the biggest play of the game involved Woods. With the Bills facing third and 21 from their own 40, Taylor evaded the Seahawks pass rush by flaring out to the left. He threw the ball towards the sideline, finding Woods who was able to get both feet inbounds to extend the drive.
Though they weren’t able to find the end zone late (and let’s not get into the possible penalty on that final play), it appears that Taylor and Woods are developing some chemistry. Depending on how long it takes for Watkins to return from injured reserve, that’s certainly a good thing moving forward.
Bills Secondary Has Major Issues
Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby were expected to be the future for Buffalo’s secondary. Last year, both players demonstrated qualities that had most observers anointing them as potential big-time cover corners in this league. The two combined for five interceptions and 39 pass breakups in 2015.
But suffice it to say, they have regressed significantly this year. Darby’s struggles were put front and center against Seattle. The Seahawks continuously exploited his side of the field on deep pass plays. On their first possession of the game, Darby gave up a 50-yard reception to Doug Baldwin which set up the ‘Hawks with first and goal. In the second quarter, he was flagged for pass interference on another deep ball throw from Russell Wilson to Baldwin. Both led to touchdowns on the ensuing play.
Gilmore is in a contract year after being optioned in 2015 and not performing like a player about to sign a massive extension in the off-season. Darby is clearly in a sophomore slump. Both were the first players taken by the Bills when they were drafted. If the Bills are to remain in the hunt for the playoffs, Gilmore and Darby will have to rekindle the form that made them so feared last season.
NFL Officiating Has Bigger Issues than the Bills Secondary
Of course, the biggest story coming out of this game was the horrendous officiating gaffe at the end of the first half. With the Bills setting up for a 54-yard field goal that would make it 28-20 heading into halftime, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman jumped prematurely. The Bills snapped anyway, and Sherman continued to try and make a play to block the kick, which is fine. You’re taught to play to the whistle.
The problem is that Sherman plowed into Bills kicker Dan Carpenter‘s legs. Carpenter appeared to have been injured on the play and was extremely slow getting up. Most people watching the game were probably anticipating a roughing the kicker call. However, the referees only ruled offsides which, as the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino tweeted out, was incorrect.
At the end of the half in #BUFvsSEA its unnecessary roughness for hitting the kicker. Foul means he can stay in the game.
— Dean Blandino (@DeanBlandino) November 8, 2016
But that was just the beginning.
Since the Bills medical staff had to come onto the field to assist Carpenter without a timeout, it was ruled that a fourth timeout was called. This meant Carpenter was not allowed on the field for the next play. It forced Buffalo to quickly spike the ball so that Carpenter could return to attempt the field goal.
Think that’s the end of it? Wait, we’re not done yet.
The umpire would stand over the ball for an excessive amount of time before allowing the Bills to snap the ball. In fact, by the time he moved away, there was just five seconds left on the play clock. Buffalo tried to get it off in time and Carpenter’s kick split the uprights. However, the officials ruled it a delay of game, forcing the Bills five yards back.
Carpenter’s next kick had a bit of side spin on it and swerved past the right upright by no more than a few yards. It probably would’ve went in had it taken place at the original line of scrimmage without the delay of game call. And had he made the kick, Buffalo would’ve only been down three on that final drive. With the Bills having faced goal to go, Carpenter would’ve had a chip shot field goal late in the fourth to force overtime.
It seems pretty apparent that the pre-halftime fiasco which led to no points for the Bills ended up having an impact on the result of the game. It’s just one of many NFL officiating miscues this season that has frustrated players, coaches and fans of various teams. And it’s too bad because this was one of the most entertaining nationally televised games of 2016. The shame of it all is that we’re talking about the incompetence of the zebras and not the fantastic play from both teams.
Poor officiating size, the loss means the Bills are 4-5 on the year and head into their bye on a three-game losing streak. They now face an uphill battle to right the ship and get back into playoff contention. To make matters worse, two of their next three are on the road, including the Bengals in week 11 and the red hot Raiders in week 13.