Report: Referee in Patriots-Bills game confused college, NFL rules
An important missed call at the end of the New England Patriots-Buffalo Bills game on Monday may have been the result of an official confusing collegiate and NFL rules, according to a report from The Boston Globe.
Citing a source from the NFL Referees Association, who has officiated dozens NFL games, The Boston Globe reports head linesman Ed Walker applied a college football rule when he determined the clock should keep running on the final play of the game, despite Bills receiver Sammy Watkins going out of bounds.
Walker said that Watkins was giving himself up, so the clock should continuing running regardless of whether he crossed the sideline.
In college, the call would have been correct, because Watkins fell backwards out of bounds. However, in the NFL, players can only give themselves up by sliding or kneeling, which Watkins did not. The clock should have stopped regardless of him moving backward.
“In the NFL, the way it’s always been officiated is if a guy gets out of bounds, you give it to him and stop the clock,” the source told The Boston Globe. “But he called it like the college rule. I’m not sure he knew the NFL rule.”
Walker is in his second season as an NFL official after spending time working in the Pac-12.
The Patriots ended up winning the game 20–13. If the clock had stopped, the Bills would have had an opportunity at a final play from their own 48-yard line.