- The Buffalo Bills were briefly awarded a touchdown on the opening kickoff of the second half in the AFC Wild Card Game against the Houston Texans.
- The kick returner tossed the ball towards the referee without taking a knee or signalling a fair catch and the Bills recovered the ball in the end zone.
- After a discussion with one of the alternate officials not working the game, common sense prevailed and the ruling was changed.
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In the first game of the playoffs, the NFL nearly had another monumental disaster on the level of the Dez Bryant catch or the non-pass interference call that went against the New Orleans Saints.
Thankfully, common sense prevailed, with the help of an alternate official.
The Buffalo Bills were leading the Houston Texans, 13-0, to start the second half of their AFC Wild Card Game. On the opening kickoff of the half, DeAndre Carter caught the ball in the end zone and tossed the ball to the referee without taking a knee.
The referee never blew the whistle, the Bills picked up the ball in the end zone, and it was ruled a touchdown for Buffalo. Here is the wild sequence, via ESPN.
Former NFL official John Parry immediately noted that Carter had willingly “given himself up,” by making it clear that he had no intention of returning the ball. This would be akin to a quarterback sliding without being touched.
“There is no fair-catch signal, I get it,” Parry said on ESPN. “But the receiver in the end zone basically gives himself up. This play is over. This is common-sense-football officiating.”
Parry also noted later that “this happens so many times throughout the season.”
As the Texans argued the play, one of the four alternate officials, Mark Steinkerchner in the black jacket, ran onto the field to discuss the play with the referee. After a brief discussion, the referee changed his ruling, awarded a touchback to the Texans, and all was well again.
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