The NFL has just sparked some outrage among fans of the Buffalo Bills. The league's officials released a video detailing "blindside blocks" but used footage of guard Cody Ford as an example of a "clean block." The issue for Bills fans is that this same play drew a costly penalty during a playoff game to the Houston Texans, contributing to a 22-19 loss.
The play occurred during overtime of the Wild Card game. The Bills took over after forcing the Texans to punt, needing only a field goal to win. Facing third-and-nine from the Texans' 42-yard line, quarterback Josh Allen scrambled for four yards on a play that should have set up the game-winning field goal. However, the referees called Ford for an illegal blindside block against linebacker Jacob Martin and forced a punt. The Texans ultimately kicked a field goal and won.
The fans were in an uproar after the penalty took away an opportunity for the Bills to win a playoff game. Many proclaimed that the league was incorrect in its assessment of the play, but the NFL doubled down by fining Ford $28,075 for his hit on Martin. Ford appealed the decision and partially won, earning a new punishment of $4,211, but now the league has determined nothing was illegal about the block.
NFL officiating released a video detailing the illegal blindside block rule while providing a written description. "Players who seek out and have a clear shot at a player who has no way to defend himself need to use other techniques like pushing or shoving with the hands or turning to shield, screen, or get under the defender without driving through him when he is vulnerable to blindside action," said Walt Anderson, senior VP of officiating.
The video showed several examples of "illegal" blocks that the league wants plays to stop using. It also featured some that were "good choices," including a block Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald used to help his quarterback gain extra yards. Ford's block against Martin was the final clip included, which Anderson used as an example of a clean play.
Here’s what officials look for when it comes to blindside blocks ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/XYnBD0mXHp— NFL Officiating (@NFLOfficiating) April 9, 2021
"Comes back to his own end line, and again just makes really more of a nudge block," Anderson said in the video about Ford's block. "Not the type of forceable contact threshold that has to be met for a blindside block." Of course, seeing the play listed as "clean" did nothing to appease the football fans. They continued to express frustration about the officials while calling for the league to refund Ford's money.