The referees were wrong to reverse that TD from the kickoff to start the third quarter.. A cheap TD but the rules were not followed, it impacted the game.
Refs do not call intent, they enforce rules, the wording of the rule clearly states a knee must be taken to down the ball. If you are paid 800,00 dollars to primarily return kicks - know the rules to that play
If you are paid to coach kick returns - make sure your guy knows the nuances of the rule.
Think about how many decisions the kick returned was absolved from
1. he decides to catch ball and keep the play live
2. he decides to not let ball hit ground in endzone thus killing the play
3. he decides to not take a knee
4. he decides to toss a live football to the ref
5. he ignores the ref reacting to it like a hot potato
6. he decides not to jump on the live ball after watching the ref respond to it like a hot potato
I know his intent was kill the play, but he did not follow the rules to carry that out. Consider what a returner could do, catch kickoff, slowly walk over in direction of ref with ball held out in a manner suggesting it will be handed to the ref, baiting the coverage team into letting their guard down, blockers sell the script for a few moments, returner stops 3 yards away from ref so ball is not put into refs hands, blockers then deliver blocks to an unsuspecting kick coverage team that has let guard down, returner suddenly bolts upfield gaining a possible TD.
This play should have been reviewed and upheld as a bills TD, referee called it correctly, the "part time" employee knew the rules better than the full time employee returning the kick. that returner should know the rules pertaining to his job inside and out, he didn't, he screwed up and got a free pass. This is not little league, this is the highest level of the sport, you are paid to know these things and coach players to know these things. This not a judgement call at all, strictly based on mechanics, no fair catch signal, no knee - play is still live. The logic of making the call reversed based on intent is garbage logic - what actually happened is all that matters, rules always carry the day over intent. When a tackler intends to bring a ball carrier down and inadvertently grabs the face mask - intent has no bearing on it - you call what happened as it pertains to the rules.
They treated this like a 10 year soccer game where the kid can't throw the ball while keeping both feet on the ground, just do it over kid or ignore it - it is NFL football know the rules and follow the rules.
Man people praise players and coaches who do this to the advantage of their team - stupidity and carelessness impacts games, no free passes - big boy football
The optics of calling it correctly, would have been a PR challenge for the NFL, but man can the optics of it be worse than what happened to the saints last year, and the many challenged PI calls this season they would not overturn - At least this blown call would have given them rules to stand behind the stance. The league has a great product - but they suck in their attempt to LIMIT the errors and improve it.
I am surprised this is not getting greater attention, not getting it correct is now routine for NFL