Even through Bills-colored glasses, the majority of Buffalo fans didn’t agree with an unsportsmanlike conduct given to Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller on Sunday.
Miller was penalized in the fourth quarter of the Bills’ 26-16 victory Sunday after he stuck his hand out to help up quarterback Tyrod Taylor, then pulled it away.
On a Twitter poll conducted Monday, 71 percent of more than 800 voters disagreed that Miller should have penalized. Referee Carl Cheffers thought otherwise, though, a decision that gave the Bills a crucial first down, allowing them to run another 4 minutes off the clock on a drive that ended with a 27-yard Stephen Hauschka that made the score 26-16.
Had Miller not penalized, the Bills were likely going to punt the ball away from near midfield with 7:38 remaining.
"I killed the game today with that penalty. I've got to be better than that,” Miller said. "I just wasn't thinking. I made a very, very crucial mistake at a vital point in the game."
Former NFL official Jim Daopoulous didn’t think Miller would have been flagged. Daopoulos, who spent 11 years as an on-field official and 12 as a supervisor and now works for ESPN, told The Buffalo News on Monday that the call was an “overreaction.”
“I understood the call, but I was amazed that Carl Cheffers made that call,” Daopoulos said. “I could see if the players were in each other’s faces, but it seems they know each other and it was a joking type of thing.
“It wasn’t a very sportsmanship-type thing that Von did, but I didn’t think there was any malice. I really don’t think that should have been flagged. There’s so much that goes on out on the field and guys get on each other now and then, but this seemed to be a couple of buddies. … It looks bad from a professionalism standpoint, but I don’t think it warranted a 15-yard penalty.”
Taylor confirmed after the game that he’s friends with Miller.
“I honestly didn’t know at the time it was going to be a flag,” Taylor said. “Like I said, we were laughing. It ended up working out in our favor. I guess a bad play by him at the time, pretty sure he wish he could have that back.”
Asked if he was laughing because Miller didn’t help him up, or that he got a penalty for it, Taylor said “both.”
“Ultimately, I got played in the situation,” Taylor said. “It ended up working in our favor.”
Given the emotion of the day, Cheffers could have made the call in order to keep the final minutes under control in a close game.
“That could be a thought process, but honestly, I don’t think that’s the case here,” Daopoulos said. “You see so often during a game that guys are talking and gesturing. This was basically isolated right there and TV picks it up.”
Given that one of the referee’s jobs is to make sure there is not a late hit on the QB, the play happened feet from where Cheffers was standing.
“He’s there protecting the quarterback so I understood what he was doing,” Daopoulos said. “But I don’t agree with the way he handled it.”
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Before Sunday’s game, a report from NFL Network regarding Bills coach Sean McDermott and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus surfaced.
McDermott told the network’s Tom Pelissero that “at times” Dareus was showing the urgency he wants, and other times “not really.”
“This bus is moving and at the end of this year, we're going to have a pretty good feel for who's on the bus and who's not, and everyone knows that, I would hope,” McDermott told Pelissero.” So, I would hope they've seen that from the moves we've made and the direction we're heading, the mindset we're embracing and the devoted mindset you need to have to win in this league. We're going in a certain direction for a certain reason, and we play and do things with a purpose. People that have that common purpose and want to share that common purpose, they'll be here."
Asked Monday in what ways he needs to see more urgency from Dareus, who missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, McDermott didn’t have any specific examples.
“Just generally speaking, like our entire football team,” the coach said. “There’s thing that we’re doing well, like I mentioned with the defense, there are things that we can improve on. I would say the same thing again, with respect to Marcell, same thing with myself. There’s things that I feel like I did well yesterday, there’s some things I could improve on. If you take the right approach, take the right mindset, you continue to get better every day, every week and every game.”
McDermott said Monday it was too soon to know about the possible availability of Dareus and left tackle Cordy Glenn – who also missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury – for the Week Four game in Atlanta.
“Still early at this point,” the coach said. “We’ll know more in the next 24, 48 hours.”
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Linebacker Deon Lacey made one of the plays of the game for the Bills on Sunday when he sniffed out a fake punt by the Broncos and dropped running back De'Angelo Henderson for a 1-yard gain on fourth and 2.
McDermott explained Monday that safety Colt Anderson was the first to recognize the formation the Broncos were using.
"They had a look that Colt was very aware of, and then Deon obviously made the big play," McDermott said. "I thought that was a big momentum shift in the game, on the heels of some other things that had gone our way, then all of a sudden, we don’t get the points we wanted, but that was a big momentum shift. Obviously, changing field position was huge."