Part of the reason for the late loss was a 15-yard penalty given to offensive lineman Chad Ford for an illegal blindside block that knocked Buffalo out of field goal range. The Texans went on to kick the game-winning field goal just a few minutes later and advanced to the AFC Divisional round with a 22-19 victory.
However, it looks like Ford shouldn’t have been assessed a penalty at all.
The NFL has seemingly admitted fault for throwing a flag against the Bills offensive lineman back on Jan. 4, 2020. In a recent video from the league’s officiating office, Ford’s block is actually used as an example of a clean play.
“Back towards his own end line, and again just makes really more of a nudge block,” NFL Senior VP of Officiating Training and Development Walt Anderson said in the video as Ford’s block is shown. “Not the type of forcible contact threshold that has to be met for a blindside block rule.”
Here’s what officials look for when it comes to blindside blocks ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/XYnBD0mXHp
— NFL Officiating (@NFLOfficiating) April 9, 2021
At the time of the call, a handful of rules officials disagreed with the decision to give Ford a 15-yard penalty.
“The player is blocking toward his own end line, but the very subjective question would be does he make forcible contact with the shoulder?” NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay, a former NFL referee, tweeted during the 2020 playoff game. “Based on what I’ve seen called and not called this year I would have to say it is not.”
FOX Sports’ rules analyst and the NFL’s former supervisor of officials Mike Pereira agreed with McAulay.
“I think the call is incorrect,” Pereira wrote on Twitter. “He doesn’t lead with his shoulder or head. He pushes him. It is a bad rule.”
Unfortunately, it’s too little too late for the Bills. Hopefully, the NFL has been able to learn from its mistake with Ford and will be prepared headed into next fall.