TORONTO — Aaron Williams spent some extra time reflecting at his locker Sunday night.
The Buffalo Bills’ safety had just been part of a gut-wrenching, 34-31 overtime loss to the Atlanta Falcons inside the Rogers Centre, effectively ending his team’s chances at a playoff berth for a 14th consecutive season.
Williams was a volcano waiting to erupt, and he needed to let the lava that could have potentially spilled from his mouth subside before speaking with the media.
“I didn’t want any fines talking to y’all,” he said. “Because I was going to cuss y’all out, honestly.”
It wasn’t the reporters that had Williams in a lather, but rather a controversial illegal contact penalty he took on the Falcons’ tying drive in the fourth quarter. On a second-and-5 play with 2:37 left, officials flagged Williams for what’s best described as a phantom penalty.
“I didn’t get no explanation,” Williams said. “The refs never even gave me an answer every time I asked them a question, so honestly you’ve got to ask the refs on that call, because I’m still wondering what my penalty was. I guess illegal contact, but how can it be illegal contact when I’m on the opposite side of the field?”
Bills coach Doug Marrone was apoplectic after the play, ripping off his visor in anger. Marrone, though, had cooled after the game, saying he’d have to see the play again on film.
Williams, though, did not mince words toward the end of his four-minute interview with the media, saying the loss was the most difficult he’s had to stomach in his three years – and that the refs “made the wrong calls.”
“It’s very frustrating, especially after a loss like this, knowing that we should have won this game,” he said. “The playoff run was on the line. Our season was on the line today.”
Williams wasn’t the only Bills’ defensive back to get hit with a flag on the Falcons’ tying drive. Rookie cornerback Nickell Robey was flagged for a pass interference call on a third-and-goal play from the Falcons’ 16-yard line with 1:38 left. Robey was in coverage on Falcons receiver Harry Douglas in the front-right corner of the end zone. Quarterback Matt Ryan lofted a throw toward the pylon, and Robey and Douglas got tangled up as the ball neared.
“I was just playing football, trying to make a play,” Robey said. “I felt like he pushed me more than I held him. I felt like when the ball was coming, it was underthrown. When I was trying to come back to the ball, he extended his arms and I fell. So I was just trying to make a play on the ball. … Coaches just kept telling me to play. They felt like that was just a bad call.”
The Falcons tied the game on the next play on a 1-yard touchdown run by Steven Jackson.
Both Robey and Williams said they were particularly frustrated because officials had been allowing play to be physical all game.
“You say they let us play physical, but we got the holding calls on us,” Williams said. “The receivers are all doing the same thing. I asked the refs, ‘Is it a one-way street?’ You don’t get an answer, you don’t know what to do.”
The 34 points allowed by the Bills on Sunday was the third time they’ve allowed at least 30 in a game this season.
“The defensive side, we didn’t play the way we’ve been playing the last few weeks. Especially myself,” Williams said. “It’s just so frustrating losing in the last second. This is not the first, second, third or fourth time.”
That’s something Bills fans know all too well.