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The Patriots got robbed of a potential TD thanks to a referee's inadvertent whistle

A ref made a mistake. A ref made a baaad mistake.

The New England Patriots and their fans have yet another reason to argue the NFL hates them. Tom Brady completed a pass to Danny Amendola and he had tons of room ahead of him, but an inadvertent whistle by a referee blew the play dead and prevented him from having a chance to score.

Amendola got the catch, plus the Patriots got a 15-yard penalty on Ryan, but the play was dead at the moment the whistle blew. And Amendola had a loooooot of space in front of him.

To be fair, his man stopped running with him when the whistle blew. But he had a lot of running room. It's possible, if not probable, that this cost the Patriots a touchdown.

The Pats wouldn't score. They only got the ball to the 37-yard line, then Stephen Gostkowski missed a 54-yard field goal attempt. And the Bills scored on the ensuing possession. Patriots fans will be mad!

Pats fans will say this was a conspiracy theory, but it seems like it was just an error by a frazzled ref. Bills coach Rex Ryan interfered with the side judge by standing in front of and nearly making contact with him. That's a penalty for sideline interference, worth 15 yards. The referee who was interfered with was supposed to throw a flag, but instead, he brought his whistle to his mouth and blew.

Why did he do that? Who knows. He was probably flustered by Ryan's presence in his space and simply had the wrong reaction. It seems to have been just a mistake. A bad mistake, the type of mistake refs normally eliminate from their repertoire while calling high school games, but just a mistake.

Referees aren't supposed to make mistakes, but they're human and this happens on rare occasions. It happened in an Arizona State-Washington State game a few weeks ago, but in that case it helped the offense: Wazzu had no chance of making the marker on a fourth down, but a player bumped into a ref, who blew an inadvertent whistle. That gave the Cougars a chance to replay the fourth down, and instead of a turnover, they scored a TD.

It makes sense that play has to stop in these situations: Players instinctively stop when they hear whistles, so you can't assume anything. But the team in better position at the moment of the accidental toot is always going to feel robbed.

It's especially frustrating because there's no good explanation for it. It's not a bad judgment call or a weird interpretation of a rule. It's just a mistake. And there's not really anything we can do about it, until we invent robot referees.

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SB Nation presents: The NFL's annoying catch rules struck again on Sunday