Another game in the NFL, another questionable roughing-the-passer penalty call by an officiating crew.
Just a day after referees in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 21-15 win over the Atlanta Falcons were criticized for penalizing Grady Jarrett’s sack on Tom Brady, similar questions were being asked after Monday Night Football and the Kansas City Chiefs’ dramatic 30-29 win over the Las Vegas Raiders.
Late in the first half, Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones sacked Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, tackling Carr and landing on him while also stripping the ball from him.
Despite it looking like a clean strip-sack, lead referee Carl Cheffers threw his flag, penalizing Jones for roughing-the-passer to the bemusement of the fans in Arrowhead Stadium and everyone watching at home.
“The quarterback is in the pocket and he’s in a passing posture,” Cheffers explained in the postgame pool report. “He gets full protection of all the aspects of what we give the quarterback in a passing posture. So, when he was tackled, my ruling was the defender landed on him with full body weight. The quarterback is protected from being tackled with full body weight. My ruling was roughing the passer for that reason.”
When he was asked if the ball coming loose from Carr’s hands changes the penalty, Cheffers said: “No, because he still gets passing protection until he can defend himself.
“So with him being in a passing posture and actually attempting to make a pass, he’s going to get full protection until the time when he actually can protect himself. The fact that the ball came out and was subsequently recovered by the defense is not relevant as far as the protection the quarterback gets.”
Jones said after the game that he believes these penalties should be able to be reviewed.
“It happened so fast,” Jones said. “You know, it kind of looked like that initially, but when you actually look at it through the video and slow it down, you see I kind of braced.
“And the ref might’ve seen just a big 300-pound man land on him [Carr] and I get it. I’m not saying the ref is wrong, but I’m just saying those situations can affect the game tremendously, especially, in the playoffs, a critical situation like that, a game-changing play, it can affect the whole game. Excuse my language, but we just have to take initiative as a league and see what we can do better.”
The penalty allowed the Raiders to continue their drive, ending in a Daniel Carlsen field goal as they stretched their lead to 20-7 before half time.
The evening didn’t end well for Las Vegas though, as they blew a lead which ballooned to as much as 17 to their division rivals as they suffered their fourth defeat of the season.
After what was a frustrating evening for the Raiders, star wide receiver Davante Adams pushed over a cameraman as he left the field, something he later apologized for.
After the game, Adams – who joined the Raiders in the offseason having been traded from the Packers – addressed the incident when he spoke to the media.
“Before I say anything, I want to apologize to the guy running off the field and he ran and jumped in front of me,” Adams said.
“I’m coming off the field and I bumped into him and pushed him. I think he ended up on the ground, so I want to say sorry to him because that was just frustration mixed with him running in front of me and I shouldn’t have responded that way and that’s how I initially responded. I want to apologize to him for that.”
Adams himself had another excellent evening on the field, finishing with 124 receiving yards, two touchdowns and multiple pass interference calls against Kansas City as he tormented the defensive backs.
But, despite leading 17-0 in the second quarter, when facing Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, no lead is safe.
Mahomes threw four touchdowns – all to tight end Travis Kelce – as Kansas City produced a remarkable comeback and showed their potential Super Bowl credentials.
Kelce finished with an extraordinary stat line, with seven catches, 25 receiving yards and 24 points with the four touchdowns – a career high for touchdowns for the 33-year-old.
“I just worked my tail off for these guys and ran tonight,” Kelce told ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the game. “That’s all I did for [Chiefs] Kingdom. They showed up, showed out on a Monday night, knowing everybody’s got work tomorrow and they were in here loud and proud.”