ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – The Vikings beat the Bills in overtime. If not for an officiating mistake, they might have won in regulation.
The NFL’s senior vice president of officiating acknowledged there was a breakdown in the instant replay process after a pivotal play late in Minnesota's 33-30 win over Buffalo on Sunday.
Gabe Davis’ 20-yard reception along the sideline with 24 seconds left in regulation should have been reviewed before the Bills ran another play, Walt Anderson told a pool reporter after the game. The catch happened during Buffalo's five-play, 69-yard drive that ended with Tyler Bass hitting a 29-yard field goal to force overtime with 2 seconds left.
“Even though it happens fast and Buffalo hurries to the line of scrimmage for the next play, if the replay official can’t confirm that it was a catch on that long of a completed pass, we should stop play to ensure it was a catch,” Anderson said.
On replays, it appeared that Davis did not secure the ball while falling out of bounds.
“It would have been reversed to an incomplete pass because he did not maintain control of the ball after he hit the ground and the ball touched the ground out of bounds,” Anderson said.
Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said the catch happened in front of him on the sideline. He was unable to challenge the ruling because it occurred in the final 2 minutes, and said he did not get an explanation from officials.
“I didn’t think it was a catch,” O’Connell said. “In that mode, that needs to be something they need to review from up top, or possibly New York. We didn’t get any clarification on that. I did ask.”
Anderson said league officials will review the video and audio from the game to determine why there wasn’t a replay.
“I’ll have to find out from the replay official exactly what he didn’t feel like he saw to stop the game,” Anderson said.
O’Connell said there might have been another officiating error in overtime that could have affected the result. He questioned whether the Bills had 12 defenders on the field when Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook was tackled for a 3-yard loss on first-and-goal from the Bills 2.
The Vikings kicked what turned out to be the winning field goal three plays later, but a touchdown on the opening drive of overtime would have ended the game without giving the Bills' offense a chance to respond.
Anderson credited replay officials for making the right decision on two key plays in the final minute of regulation.
He said replays showed Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins' shoulder was down before he extended the ball over the goal line on fourth-and-goal from the half-yard line with 49 seconds remaining.
On the next play, Bills quarterback Josh Allen muffed the snap, which was recovered by Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks for a touchdown.
Anderson said replays clearly showed Allen losing the ball, and officials properly stayed with the call on the field — a Vikings touchdown — after various camera angles were unable to confirm who made the recovery.
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