The NFL season kicked off with controversy on Thursday, with referees coming under fire for what appeared to be a series of missed calls on Kansas City Chiefs tackle Jawaan Taylor in the team’s 21-20 loss to the Detroit Lions.
Taylor was seen getting an early jump on snaps throughout the September 7 game, with the NBC broadcast honing in on the apparent missed calls and rules analyst Terry McAulay taking aim at the officials. The missed calls also created a stir online, with many fans and analysts taking aim at officials for what they saw as egregious missed calls.
While Taylor was eventually flagged for a false start late in the game, some analysts believed the Lions defense could have had much more success had the false starts been called more regularly.
Lions at ‘Tremendous Disadvantage’
Many Lions fans took to social media to share their anger over the apparent missed calls, with some accusing referees of favoring the defending Super Bowl champions in the league’s season opener.
“Pretty embarrassing for KC and the NFL refs that it hasn’t been called once this game,” one fan wrote on Twitter.
Others questioned how referees could allow the Chiefs left tackle to get an early jump consistently throughout the game.
“Eventually they have to call these false starts on Jawaan Taylor, right??” another shared on Twitter.
McAulay, a former NFL official turned rules analyst for NBC, said Taylor was not only getting an early start but also lining up farther from the line than allowed. McAulay said the illegal formation was impeding the Lions’ defensive linemen.
“To be on the line, his helmet has to break the waistline of the center. And to be honest, we’ve watched him the whole game, he’s really not remotely close,” McAulay said to NBC’s Mike Tirico, via SI.com. “And it’s really putting the defender at a tremendous disadvantage when he can be that far back.”
Other fans noted that the Lions could have had much more success in putting pressure on Mahomes had Taylor not gotten an early jump so frequently.
“with how good Aidan Hutchinson has played you have to wonder if what would the game be like if Jawaan Taylor wasn’t getting away with lining up illegally and jumping on literally every snap,” one fan shared on Twitter.
Referees did finally flag Taylor, calling him for a false start before a 4th-and-20 play with 2:09 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Chiefs trailing 21-20. Mahomes threw an incomplete pass one play later, and the Lions took over on downs and iced the game with a first down.
Lions Overcome Controversial Calls
Despite the controversy over the officiating, the underdog Lions were able to erase a second-half deficit and defeat the Chiefs. Lions running back David Montgomery, an offseason acquisition, scored the go-ahead touchdown with 7:06 left in the fourth quarter and the Lions’ defense put the clamps on Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to seal the win.
The Lions were also able to overcome a significant penalty disadvantage in the game. The Chiefs were penalized three times for 25 yards, while the Lions committed four penalties for 63 total yards — much of that coming on a 41-yard defensive pass interference that put the Chiefs in field goal range in the third quarter.