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Were Bills victimized by the Phantom of Wembley?

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – The Buffalo Bills continue to be the most penalized team in the league, the count now at 72 for 670 yards, by far the worst in both categories.

However, in Sunday’s 34-31 loss to Jacksonville in London’s Wembley Stadium, the Bills were flagged for a phantom penalty and it very well might have cost them the game. On a third-and-15 from the Jacksonville 47-yard line, cornerback Nickell Robey was called for pass interference on Brian Walters.

“The worst call I’ve ever been a part of in my life,” Robey said. And he may have a point.

There was minimal contact on the play, and Robey was actually in better position to make a play on the ball, yet the official ruled it the other way and the Jaguars had a first down at the Bills 36 rather than fourth-and-15 with three minutes left. Two plays later, they scored the winning touchdown.

“It was a terrible call, I’m still sitting here thinking how terrible it was,” Robey said. “I played good defense, I played my man to a T. I asked what I did and he couldn’t explain it. I’m still looking for an answer. I didn’t even press on that play, it was off coverage, I’m going to the ball with my hands out. He’s coming to me and I already beat him to the spot and they threw the flag.”

–The curious series of stories surrounding Percy Harvin is getting, well, curiouser. NBC reported Sunday night that, contrary to reports earlier in the week about the wide receiver contemplating retirement due to his ongoing hip injury, Harvin stayed home only because he wouldn’t be playing due to the injury.

But that wasn’t the tune Rex Ryan was singing earlier in the week when he fueled rumors of Harvin’s whereabouts by saying it was a “personal matter” and that he didn’t know where Harvin was.

As Mike Florio of NBC and ProFootballTalk.com said, “The fact that the team is putting out something to the contrary could create a problem between player and team down the road, so we’ll keep an eye on that one.”

–After Sunday’s game, one London journalist said not only was it the most exciting of the 13 international series games played at Wembley Stadium, the crowd, which numbered 84,021, was more involved in this one than ever before.

The 65 points combined was the second-highest in the series, and it included two lead changes in the final 5:21. According to Elias, this was just the third NFL game in the last 10 years where both teams scored a go-ahead touchdown of 30 yards or longer in the last six minutes of the fourth quarter.

As for the Bills, this was just the second time in team history they scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns of 40 yards or longer in a span of two minutes (Marcus Easley’s 58-yard reception, Corey Graham’s 44-yard pick-six).

The first occasion was in a 37-35 win over the Jets at War Memorial Stadium in 1968 in which Joe Namath threw five interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns. George Byrd and Booker Edgerson scored on returns of 53 and 45 yards, respectively, in a span of 62 seconds.

Notes: QB EJ Manuel endured a rough day with in London as he committed three turnovers, all of which led directly to Jaguars touchdowns. He completed 24 of 42 passes for 298 yards and two TDs. … RB LeSean McCoy rushed for 68 yards and caught two passes for 36 yards. He also scored on a two-point conversion and lost a fumble. … WR Robert Woods was the No. 1 receiver due to injuries, and caught nine passes for 84 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets. … FS Corey Graham led the team with nine tackles and intercepted a pass and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown. … K Dan Carpenter made all three field-goal tries and both extra points as his slump seems to be a thing of the past.


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