The NFL still needs its officials to practice some common sense. The celebration rules have been relaxed, and that’s good. But on Sunday in Buffalo, it was replaced by one of the worst calls you’ll ever see, and it was a crushing blow for the Denver Broncos.
Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller hit Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor on a pass rush on third down in the fourth quarter. Miller, one of the league’s most spirited players, extended a hand to help Taylor up. Then he pulled the whole “too slow” move and yanked his hand back when Taylor was going to grab his hand. The CBS cameras showed Miller turn back laughing, and Taylor got up laughing too, and pointed at Miller as if to say, “you got me.” It was funny.
And Miller was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. For a joke you’d see on an elementary school playground, with both players laughing afterward. And it cost the Broncos dearly in a close game.
Taylor had just thrown incomplete on third-and-6 with less than eight minutes left in the game and the Broncos trailing 23-16. The Bills took the free 15 yards and kicked a field goal with 3:14 to extend their lead to two scores. It’s not overstating it to say that call could have cost the Broncos the game.
The NFL has to take a real look at its game. When people complain about it being no fun, they can point to a call like the one on Miller. Nobody wants the officials deciding games on stuff like that. If it’s not dumb celebration penalties being called, it’s for something like this. Nobody in their right mind could equate Miller’s joke to a real personal foul, like head-hunting a receiver. Don’t blame Miller, because there’s no chance a sane person would have believed he could have gotten penalized for that.
The NFL usually explains away its bad calls, but it can’t explain away this one. It’s the worst call you’ll see in the NFL this season, and for many seasons to come. Inexcusable.
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