Coming off the heels of back-to-back big losses to the Seahawks and Dolphins, not many NY Giants fans were optimistic leading up to the Bills game on Sunday Night Football. Many were surprised, though, with how well New York played. Not only were the Giants competitive, but they came within just one or two plays from coming out on top.
While the boys in black and white aren't entirely at fault for the Giants' loss, they certainly didn't help. We respect the referees, but these three decisions are unacceptable and played a much larger role in the outcome of this game than they should have.
Referees are a constant point of conversation amongst fans and while many will overstate their impact, there's no doubt in our minds that if the correct decisions were made on these three calls, the Giants may have walked away with a 2-4 record. Instead, they're 1-5:
3. Evan Neal illegal man downfield penalty
Early in the second, up 3-0, the Giants were hoping to start the second half with a bang. Jalin Hyatt was on the field, ready to make a big play. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor rolled out of the pocket and delivered a great ball for the third-round pick to come down with.
Hyatt would make a fantastic 43-yard sideline catch, setting up the Giants nicely at the Bills 42-yard line. However, this wouldn't be the case, as second-year tackle Evan Neal would be flagged for an ineligible man downfield penalty. Normally, with how Neal has struggled, we'd somewhat expect him to screw up, except, when looking at the replay, we were left confused as to how this was called.
Typically, an ineligible downfield penalty will be called if a lineman is past the line of scrimmage, but not engaged in a block. As you can very clearly see in the clip, though, Neal was engaged in a double team that pushed Jordan Phillips past the line of scrimmage.
Why Neal was called for this, we simply don't know. What we do know is that this penalty killed all momentum on the rest of the Giants' drive, as they'd go three and out, giving the Bills the ball back. Had the play stood, the Giants would have been in business to put more points on the board.