The NFL has admitted that Bills receiver Sammy Watkins got out of bounds with two seconds remaining on Monday night, meaning the Bills should have had time to run one last play in their 20-13 loss to the Patriots.
NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino said on NFL Network on Tuesday night that Watkins rolled out of bounds without being touched, which means the clock should have stopped. The official closest to the play erroneously thought Watkins was giving himself up in the field of play and signaled for the clock to keep running.
“He is down in bounds, but he’s not contacted,” Blandino said as he showed video of the play. “He’s attempting to get out of bounds, you want to give that player the opportunity to get out of bounds, and really, that’s what should have happened.”
For the official right on top of that play to screw it up is a serious mistake. It also doesn’t help matters that the NFL waited until Tuesday night to acknowledge the error. That led to a day of confusion in which many fans, wrongly interpreting the rule, posted on social media that the clock kept running because Watkins wasn’t moving forward when he went out of bounds.
It’s good that the NFL is transparent enough to acknowledge such mistakes, but the league would do better to acknowledge those mistakes more quickly. Even better, of course, would be not to make mistakes in the first place.