Tonawanda News

Bills

December 4, 2011

McIntyre questions ‘phantom’ holding penalty

NOTEBOOK

ORCHARD PARK — C.J. Spiller scores a long touchdown at the outset of Sunday’s game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. He surged for another one soon after, but a holding penalty negated the six points that would later prove to be the margin of defeat for the Buffalo Bills in a 23-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Fullback Corey McIntyre, the player flagged on Spiller’s 41-yard right up the left side, criticized the call after the game.

“I don’t know what the ref saw, but when you don’t touch that person and you let him spin and you don’t even grab him, you be the judge of that,” McIntyre said. “You can call a phantom or whatever, but I know that wasn’t a hold. I feel bad because we made a big play and that was a big penalty when I didn’t even hold a guy.”

Spiller said the penalty deflated a Bills offense that would have taken a 14-10 lead in the first quarter.

“I saw the flag and that’s why I knew I couldn’t celebrate because I knew there was good chance that some might happen,” said Spiller, who finished with a career-best 83 yards on 14 carries. “I asked Corey and all they did was hit the guy and the guy went out and I guess the ref probably thought it was a holding, so that was a tough break.”

Spiller did record the longest touchdown run of his career on the Bills’ previous possession. But it was far from routine. He found a slight seam inside the left tackle thanks to blocks from McIntyre and guard Chad Rinehart and took off down the sideline, but was stripped at the 5 by Titans safety Michael Griffin.

The ball shot nine yards deep into the end zone but Spiller was able to fall back on it and gain possession before sliding out of the back of the end zone for a touchback. The play, which was initially ruled a touchback, was overruled.

The 35-yard score was Spiller’s first since Week 1 at Kansas City.

•••

The Buffalo defense has struggled to get off the field on third downs of late, coming through on just 43 percent of the plays heading into Sunday. The Bills were much better in that regard against the Titans, as Tennessee converted just 2 of 11 on the day.

“That’s something that has been the backbreaker for us all year, getting off the field on third down,” rookie linebacker Kelvin Sheppard said.

The Titans were 0 for 10 on third down up until the fourth quarter when Matt Hasselbeck completed passes on third and 8 and third and 10 to move the sticks on a drive that resulted in a Rob Bironas 44-yard field goal to make it 23-10.

“I think we did a great job today (on third down),” Sheppard added. “It was just crucial moments, crucial points. We had them at third and 10, third and 11 and we let them catch routes right at the sticks. It’s just the deflator of the balloon.”

•••

Prior to kickoff there was a moment of silence for longtime Bills beat reporter Allen Wilson, who died Saturday after a long bout with leukemia.

Wilson, husband of former Niagara Gazette sports reporter and current Buffalo News executive sports editor Lisa Wilson, covered the Bills since 1999. The Bills staff honored Wilson with a bouquet of flowers and a framed photo at his seat in the press box, where he was a fixture among local media for more than a decade.

Safety George Wilson released a statement on behalf of the team.

“I would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to his wife Lisa and daughter Alissa and the rest of Allen Wilson’s family,” Wilson said. “Our hearts go out to them. Allen was such a great joy to work with and be around. Even when he was not writing a story about you he would come by your locker and ask how you were doing. ... He was always uplifting and encouraging in my journey in this league and with this team as he was with many players over the years.”

•••

Stevie Johnson was fined $10,000 earlier in the week for his touchdown celebration against the New York Jets, but when he scored on 2-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick late in the fourth on Sunday, the Bills receiver was a bit more subdued. Johnson trotted over to the closest official and hand him the football before a handshake with teammate Tashard Choice.

“Just hand it to the referee,” he said, “handshakes and go back to the sideline and celebrate with my teammates.

•••

Grand Island native and Titans punter Brett Kern returned to Ralph Wilson Stadium for the first time since a Section VI playoff game versus Sweet Home in 2003.

Kern averaged 47.8 yards on five punts, saving his best for last in the fourth quarter when he delivered a 57-yard bomb which gave the Bills first and 10 on their own 15 with the game on the line.

•••

Aaron Williams hobbled off the field with a little less than six minutes left in the third quarter with an apparent knee injury and did not return. Leodis McKelvin, who’s been leaped on the depth chart by Williams and rookie Justin Rodgers, played the remainder of the game when needed.

Tight Scott Chandler also played sparingly in the second half after sustaining an injury to his left ankle. Chandler went in for X-rays following the game, as did Jairus Byrd. Nick Barnett’s left hand was also heavily taped in the locker room after the game.

•••

Rian Lindell and George Wilson were among the inactives for Buffalo Sunday. Linebacker Antonio Coleman, offensive tackle Sam Young, defensive lineman Kyle Moore and receivers Derek Hagan and Kamar Aiken also did not suit up.

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