Despite getting outplayed for nearly the entire first half against the New England Patriots, the Buffalo Bills walked into their locker room with the score tied at halftime on Saturday. The man responsible for their lone touchdown at that point: 320-pound offensive tackle Dion Dawkins.
With five seconds left in the first half, Dawkins scored one of the season’s most pivotal fat guy touchdowns on a pass from Josh Allen thanks to a bit of trickery. It was the second touchdown catch of Dawkins’ career.
Dawkins followed the catch up with a dance befitting a game-tying score in a divisional matchup.
Did an official’s miscommunication hurt the Patriots?
Under normal circumstances, Dawkins is an ineligible receiver because he’s an offensive lineman, a position not allowed to catch passes.
Meanwhile, NFL rules dictate that there must be seven players lined up at the line of scrimmage, with the players at each end being eligible to receive passes. Those are usually wide receivers and tight ends, with offensive lineman in the middle.
The Bills’ formation left Dawkins as the left-most player at the line of scrimmage. In that circumstance, a lineman is still ineligible unless he reports to the officials as an eligible receiver. Dawkins could be heard doing that, according to NESN’s Doug Kyed and WGR 550’s Brayton Wilson, so he was within his rights to slip out and catch the pass, to the apparent surprise of the Patriots.
Funnily enough, the Patriots infuriated the Baltimore Ravens a few years ago with a similar manipulation of eligible receiver rules.
There might have been a miscommunication that cost the Patriots dearly after Dawkins reported, however, judging from a very angry Bill Belichick after the play. Instead of Dawkins, No. 71 Ryan Bates, on the other side of the offensive line, was somehow reported to be the eligible receiver by announcer Mike Tirico (as heard in the video above). Bill Belichick was seen yelling at the officials on the field about something, and that error could have been it.
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