The Patriots got a big break when officials overturned a touchdown catch for the other team. No, this is not a repeat.
For the second straight week, the exact definition of a catch and the officials' ability to discern that became a hot topic in the NFL. And for the second straight week, New England came out ahead in the deal.
On Sunday, referees on the field ruled that Buffalo's Kelvin Benjamin had both feet in bounds in the back corner of the end zone and called it a touchdown , which would have given the Bills a 16-13 lead just before halftime.
But after the review, which goes to the NFL's senior vice president of officials in New York, the call was overturned. Buffalo settled for a field goal and went on to lose 37-16.
The Bills were outraged.
"Does anyone even know what a catch is anymore? I definitely don't after watching that," tweeted Jessie Pegula, the daughter of the team's owner.
"The (officials) always seem to get it right for the Patriots, but that's not why we lost," Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy said.
He was referencing the call that helped New England last weekend, when Pittsburgh's Jesse James appeared to have scored the winning touchdown , only to have it overturned on an equally confounding call. Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception two plays later and the Patriots held on for the victory.
Nobody was more fired up about Sunday's call than former NFL officiating vice president Mike Pereira.
"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," he posted on Twitter .
Pereira had backup from another former NFL officiating executive, Dean Blandino, who posted a video explaining why the overturn was incorrect.
In case you missed it, here are the other top topics after the NFL season's 16th Sunday:
WHAT IF THEY'D LOST?: Chiefs coach Andy Reid knows how to party. After a 29-13 victory over the Dolphins wrapped up the AFC West title for Kansas City, Reid addressed his team, and the media, in a Santa Claus suit. Rams coach Sean McVay took a different tact after Los Angeles beat Tennessee to win the NFC West, celebrating with his best imitation of wrestler Ric Flair . New Orleans and Carolina secured playoff spots, and one will win the NFC South next week. The conference's lone remaining playoff spot will go to the Falcons or Seahawks. In the AFC, the Patriots locked up a first-round bye and the Jacksonville Jaguars wrapped up their first division title since 1999 even though they lost 44-33 to the Niners.
BACKSIDE HELP: Thanks to Saints defensive back Marshon Lattimore, The Butt Fumble now has company. Lattimore recorded a pick after Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan's pass deflected off the hands of his receiver and landed softly on Lattimore's derriere. Lattimore had the presence of ... mind, shall we say, to trap the ball against his backside for the interception.
WAIVER WIRE: The future of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers came ever so slightly into question. A few days after being eliminated from the playoffs following Atlanta's win over Tampa Bay last Monday, the Packers placed Rodgers back on injured reserve only days after the quarterback had returned to the lineup following a two-month stay on IR with a broken collarbone. ESPN reported Sunday that several teams complained to the league, citing a rule that says a player must have suffered a new injury that would sideline him at least six weeks to be placed on injured reserve. If that's not the case, the team must release the player once he is healthy. Rodgers didn't appear to suffer any injury in his return — a Dec. 17 appearance against the Panthers. ESPN said nobody seriously expects the league to force the Packers to release their quarterback.
WE'RE NO. 1: The Cleveland Browns wrapped up the top pick in next year's draft with a loss to Chicago. The Browns, who went 1-15 last season, fell to 0-15 this year. Their last chance to win in 2017 comes next week at Pittsburgh. Fail there and they'll join the 2008 Lions as the second NFL team to lose all 16 games in a season. The 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost all their games when there were 14 games on the NFL schedule.
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