Yep, I figure it was probably a good thing I didn't make it after all.
I know I can do much better on the written samples. I decided to make one of them an extended abstract of my dissertation. The one I have prepared is ok, but can be better. As for the second sample, I had to take a part of an essay I wrote last year. But it's a challenge with the 2000 word limit, as all my essays are at least twice that length. Wish I could just submit one 4000 word essay.
And I guess my personal statement can use a lot of improving as well. Since my background is slightly to the side of Russian and East European Studies (I'm an IR guy) I guess it's even more important to provide a good statement. I think my academic credentials and references are good "enough", so it would be a pity to ruin my chances with a poor application.
I'm glad you got your reference in time! I can just imagine how annoying it would have been if you didn't.