Mario Williams rips replacement refs
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Buffalo Bills marquee free-agent acquisition Mario Williams ripped the NFL's replacement officials for not calling numerous illegal hands to the face penalties on New York Jets right tackle Austin Howard in his team's 48-28 loss Sunday.
Replacement Officials in Week 1
There wasn't a significant change in the rate that replacement officials called penalties compared to the four previous seasons, both on a per-game basis and in Week 1 specifically.
Penalties per game, last 5 seasons
2012 14.4* 2011 15.0 2010 14.1 2009 13.9 2008 13.1 * Through Sunday night game
-- ESPN Stats & Information
"Pass blocking doesn't consist of illegal hands to the face just about every play, which, when somebody tells you that, and you're five yards away from it, and you walk away like you don't see him telling you you're getting punched in the face every time, then that dictates somebody like myself having to take care of that on my own," said Williams, who was held without a sack or quarterback pressure in his first regular-season game with the Bills after signing a six-year contract that could be worth up to $100 million with Buffalo in the offseason.
"There's definitely, with the situation that we're in with the refs like that, and then you don't listen or you don't call it one time out of 20 that were out there. That's really disheartening from that point."
Williams took all of his snaps at his usual left defensive end position, but was unable to get to Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. And, according to Williams, it wasn't just because Sanchez, who finished 19 of 27 for 266 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, was getting his passes off quickly.
"I had some things going on, so I stayed on the left side, but it's just one of those things where you tell somebody from the beginning of the game -- and it happens, one time that's on me. But when it's multiple times and I tell you and honestly you act like you don't hear me throughout the whole game, I think that's a big problem," Williams continued.
"It's not something that's really going to dictate something, but what are you going to about it? You're getting off the ball and getting punched in the face, literally -- not by accident -- just about every other time, and that's a penalty, last time I checked, unless they changed it with the new CBA or something. Last time I checked, that's a penalty."
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Asked about what he thought of Howard, who was making just his second career start and first with the Jets, Williams responded with a laugh, "I think I've already said that, but it's fine though. I definitely know what to expect. He's definitely a hands to the face guy, and they don't call it, so he's gonna continue to do it until somebody stops him, so that's fine. We'll deal with that."
Informed of Williams' comments, Howard told ESPNNewYork.com, "If that was an issue, I think they would've thrown some flags. I didn't see any flags out there."
Howard disputed Williams' claim, saying "it was a battle out there."
Howard said the two met and shook hands after the game.
"I told him 'Good job,' " Howard said. "He's a good player and he's gonna have a good year."
Howard's performance -- illegal or not -- was extremely impressive. He has only been the team's starting right tackle since its third preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, when he replaced the struggling Wayne Hunter, who was eventually traded to the St. Louis Rams for former second-overall pick Jason Smith.
Smith served as an extra blocker/jumbo tight end on Sunday, allowing the Jets to double-team Williams.
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
NFL WEEK 1 COVERAGE
MNF: Ravens 44, Bengals 13
Chargers 22, Raiders 14
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