Inside The Bills

Refs say they were ready at end of half

Posted by Chris Brown on December 28, 2008 – 10:15 pm

Head referee Gene Steratore states that his umpire was at the new line of scrimmage after the 3rd-and-5 run play at the Patriots’ 12-yard line to Fred Jackson in the waning seconds of the 2nd quarter with a kicking ball ready for a field goal attempt that never came.

“At the end of the previous play, we did bring a kicking ball in with approximately 10 seconds left and the game clock running. A member of the Buffalo offense (Duke Preston) was downfield in another situation after the play had ended with two New England players. We were breaking that up, but we did have a football set to be set down with nine seconds remaining in the half. The Buffalo player was not being restricted in any way to not be able to get back to the line to set up for the next play. Therefore there would be no foul for delay of game on the defense for not allowing an offensive player to get back to get set for the next play. The fact that we had a football ready to be set for the attempt, there was no administrative stoppage because we had the football back and ready.”

When the ref was asked if the ball was on the turf ready to be snapped, Steratore said,

“Well, actually we did’nt get to spot the ball on the field the entire day because of the weather, but the ball was in the hands of our umpire, as it was the entire day, waiting. With nine seconds left in the half the umpire was at the spot with the football.”

The problem here probably lies with the Bills players.

Duke Preston was in a scrap with two Patriot players downfield. He failed to get off the field as the field goal kicking team came on. Meanwhile Ryan Neill was late getting onto the field, which left the Bills with no one to take the ball from the umpire to snap it to attempt the field goal before time expired. So even though there was a ball waiting at the new line of scrimmage (in the umpire’s hands) there was not a center available to snap the ball in time according to the officials.

Now the players claim that they heard a whistle blow and that’s why they didn’t hustle off. They thought the whistle they heard would stop the clock. Obviously it didn’t.


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