The Buffalo Bills have 104 penalties this season, second-most in the NFL behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Many flags, yes, are of the bonehead variety.
But they’ve been robbed a handful of times, too. Particularly, Nickell Robey. Again, the NFL informed the team that the cornerback should not have been flagged for a defensive pass interference.
In the second quarter of Buffalo’s 30-22 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Robey drew the penalty while covering wide receiver Jason Avant from the slot. One play later, Alex Smith hit Jeremy Maclin on a 41-yard touchdown to cut Buffalo’s lead to 16-14.
“They explained that it was two guys jostling down the field,” Robey said. “I looked back for the ball and they said that it shouldn’t have been a flag because two guys were jostling down the field together. They see me grab him but they also see him push off me and that’s when they said they should’ve just let that play just play out because it could have went either way.”
Ironically – or maybe not so ironically? – this was the same officiating crew that worked Buffalo’s 34-31 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. That game, it was referee Terry McAulay’s group that flagged Robey for pass interference while covering Bryan Walters on a third-and-15 incompletion with three minutes to go.
Two plays later, Blake Bortles hit Allen Hurns for a game-winning touchdown. Afterward, Robey fumed that it was “the worst call I’ve ever been a part of in my life.”
The league apologized then and did again this week.
Otherwise, Robey has only been flagged once this entire season. He has no plans of changing his style.
“It again proves me right and proves the refs wrong,” Robey said. “The film doesn’t lie. What I put out there on film doesn’t lie, they see it, and I feel like they’re not going to stop my aggression on how I play my receiver. That’s how I make plays so I’m going to continue playing like I’m playing.”
So far this season, Robey has 31 tackles (25 solo), one sack and two pass break-ups.
Defensive end Mario Williams was back at practice Wednesday after missing the kansas City game with a foot injury. He was officially listed as a “limited” participant, as were left tackle Cordy Glenn (knee), wide receiver Marcus Easley (concussion protocol) and quarterback Tyrod Taylor (right shoulder).
Not practicing for the Bills were right tackle Seantrel Henderson (illness), inside linebacker Nigel Bradham (ankle), guard John Miller (ankle), safety Bacarri Rambo (knee) and running back Karlos Williams (shoulder).
Coach Rex Ryan said he isn’t concerned about either Henderson or Glenn missing Sunday’s game against the J.J. Watt-powered Houston Texans.
Sammy Watkins will not be lining up against J.J. Watt at right tackle for the Bills. But he has seen how the Houston Texans defensive end has single-handedly wrecked games this season. And the key, to him, is fighting back.
“He’s a great player, probably No. 1, MV … whatever,” Watkins began. “We can’t let him dictate and control the whole game like he’s been doing. We’ve got to play our game. We can’t let him control what we do which he does sometimes.
“Take the challenge. Go out there and cut him a couple times. Go up there and hit him in the mouth. That guy, you’ve just got to play. It’s hard to say what you can do and what you can’t do on that guy. He’s electric. He plays fast, full speed. But you’ve got to go out there and play hard against him.”
And in the film room – seeing Watt waste tackles for 13.5 sacks through 11 games – he does know he needs to get into his routes even quicker.
Said Watkins, “Because you know you only have two seconds, maybe three sometimes. Our line is going to have to block him first of all. That’s what we’ll have to do to make plays.”