It’s one thing for Jerry Hughes to blow off some steam over a tough loss to a division rival, of which Buffalo’s 21-17 setback Sunday against Miami certainly was.
It’s completely another to engage in a shouting match with an official – all of which was plainly caught on video as Hughes was making his way to the visitors’ locker room at Hard Rock Stadium – and scream, “You called me a bitch! I’ll catch you! Trust me, I’ll catch you! Guarantee it! Gonna knock his ass out when I see him on the streets.”
Hughes has a habit of losing his cool, though he usually does it on the field in the form of a costly penalty born of emotion. If the official did indeed call Hughes a bitch, that would be highly unprofessional, and the league has confirmed that it will investigate what happened. Still, Hughes may face a fine by the league because the NFL doesn’t look too kindly on its players making verbal threats to game officials.
What made this even worse, though, was Hughes’ childish and embarrassing denial of what happened when he was asked about it a few minutes later in the locker room.
“Who did? I did what?” Hughes said. “What did I say? If I did go up to the official, what did I say? I don't recall that.”
Why he would lie is stupefying. Did he not just see what happened to Kareem Hunt, formerly of the Chiefs, the biggest story in the NFL in Week 13? There was video. There’s always video.
“I lost the game so I’m supposed to be angry,” Hughes prattled on, still thinking the assembled media was buying his act. “We just played our butts off for four quarters and we came six inches short of winning the football game. So I think myself, with a lot of Buffalo Bills fans are probably upset right now. That’s just the nature of sports. Someone is going to win and someone is going to lose.”
The Bills probably shouldn’t have lost this game, and there’s no doubt the officials played a role in the defeat. Hughes was right to be irritated with rookie referee Shawn Hochuli and his crew because there were 21 accepted penalties in the game, 13 on the Bills for 120 yards, a few of them highly questionable.
But what Hughes should really be upset about is how the Bills let this game get away after they outgained the Dolphins 415-175 and outplayed them most of the day.
“It hurts, and it sucks,” said rookie quarterback Josh Allen, who had a dazzling day as he set a franchise record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 135, and also completed 18 of 33 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns to Zay Jones.
The Bills defense got off to a terrible start in allowing Miami to march easily downfield on the opening possession for a 7-0 lead. From there, Hughes and company dominated the Dolphins, and after a slow start of its own, the Bills’ offense started clicking behind Allen, and they grabbed a 17-14 lead with 12 minutes left to play.
And then the defense faltered again and allowed the Dolphins to drive 75 yards to the game-winning touchdown, Ryan Tannehill’s picture-perfect pass in the back left corner of the end zone to well-covered Kenny Stills with 8:42 to go.
That drive was greatly assisted by a terrible call by an official that produced a 25-yard pass interference penalty on linebacker Matt Milano. It was further helped along by a mindless taunting penalty by defensive tackle Jordan Phillips after he’d stuffed Miami’s Kenyan Drake for a four-yard loss. There again, at that point in the game, the official could have let it go because it wasn’t all that egregious. Instead, it became a huge part of Miami’s winning score.
“I think sometimes you can feel that calls can take the game out of your hands a little bit,” said linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who said the Milano penalty was an awful call. “But as professionals you gotta learn to overcome those and stand up. We still had opportunities after some of those calls to make a difference in the game.”
He was speaking of the defense not preventing the Stills touchdown, as well as the offense nearly pulling it out at the end, but coming up short.
After the Miami touchdown, Allen moved the Bills into field goal range, but he took a bad sack on third down which forced Stephen Hauschka to attempt a field goal from 55 yards, and he missed.
The defense got Allen the ball back with 2:33 to go, and he completed passes of 27 yards to Robert Foster, 11 yards to LeSean McCoy, and 23 yards to Isaiah McKenzie. He almost had a 24-yard completion to Jones that would have moved the ball to the 6, but instant replay correctly ruled it an incompletion, which brought up fourth-and-11 from the 30.
Allen dropped back, got heat, scrambled around behind the line and then spotted tight end Charles Clay wide open in the right side of the end zone. He fired, but the pass was a wobbler and a little short. Clay came forward and there was no defender anywhere in sight, but he couldn’t make the catch. He had to go to the ground, but he admitted after the game that it was a ball he should have caught.
“I thought he played a heck of a game,” coach Sean McDermott said of Allen. “He really did. (It was an) emotional game. He played hard. He led us on a two-minute drive at the end there. The guy's a competitor, man. He's a competitive sucker and I'll take him on my team any day. That was a great performance.”
- QB Josh Allen had quite a busy day as he ran for 135 yards and completed 18 of 33 passes for 231 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was responsible for 366 of Buffalo’s 415 total yards of offense.
- RB LeSean McCoy’s season-long struggles continued. He had 52 yards on 15 carries, a below par 3.5 yards per carry and his season yardage total is now just 478 yards.
- WR Zay Jones was held without a catch against Jacksonville, Josh Allen’s first game back from injury, but against Miami, Jones was the big-play man as he caught four passes for 67 yards with two touchdowns, plus he had a two-point conversion reception.
- OG John Miller was inactive due to an oblique injury so Jeremiah Sirles started in his place.
- C Russell Bodine suffered a leg injury early in the first quarter and Ryan Groy played the rest of the way.
- PR Isaiah McKenzie muffed one return which set up a Dolphins touchdown, and he also tripped while fielding a kickoff which resulted in a 12-yard return. He did catch four passes for 46 yards.
- LB Matt Milano was in on eight tackles, but he was also nailed for a questionable but pivotal 25-yard pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter which helped lead to Miami’s winning touchdown.
- DE Trent Murphy returned to action and he recorded a sack and two tackles.