Officiating in the NFL got into another controversy after it overturned a touchdown catch by Buffalo Bills wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin before halftime of their clash with the New England Patriots. Initially, referees on the field ruled that Benjamin made a touchdown catch that could have given the Bills the lead at the break. However, the call was overturned after review, with officials claiming that Benjamin had only one foot in bounds. The call had the Bills settling for a Stephen Hauschka's 23-yard field goal that tied the game 13-13 at the break.

The call drew criticisms from Bills players, like LeSean McCoy and quarterback Tyrod Taylor. However, the biggest criticism came from Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes. Per Mike Rodak of ESPN, Hughes was captured by ESPN cameras as he entered the locker room saying “Somebody in Boston got the refs on the payroll.” Hughes added “Y'all paying them big money out here. Still ain't gonna win, though.”

Referee explains side

After the game, head referee Craig Wrolstad gave his side for overturning Benjamin’s touchdown catch. Wrolstad explained that while the receiver had control of the football, he was not able to get both feet down in bounds. Al Riveron, NFL senior vice president of officiating, supported the referee’s claim, saying Benjamin didn’t have full possession of the ball when he dragged his second foot in bounds.

However, former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira criticized NFL’s centralized replay system in New York saying someone in a suit in an office in New York incorrectly reverses a good call from officials. Pereira also noted that there is no standard for staying with the call on the field. In the Patriots game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the referees also reversed tight end Jesse James’s touchdown catch that led to New England’s 27-24 win.

Patriots players defend call

According to Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty, he saw Benjamin’s catch, saying his foot just didn't drag. “I think the thing on the turf is always when the foot drags, you usually see the pebbles,” said McCourty, adding that he told some Bills players that it wasn’t a catch. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, for his part, called Benjamin’s catch as a good play, but he wasn’t aware of the ruling. The ruling, crucial and controversial as it may seem, didn't take away anything from the Patriots as they outscored the Bills in the second half en route to victory.