The poor officiating from the Kansas City Chiefs‘ 34-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17 still stings days later. That’s evident in Kansas City’s locker room as quarterback Patrick Mahomes addressed how the officials performed in that game for the first time on Wednesday, January 4.
“I know it’s a hard job, but when stuff like that happens in the game, it’s definitely disappointing to us as players, so you want to kind of go down win or lose,” Mahomes told 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City. “Whenever there’s penalties at the end of the game and it doesn’t go your way, it’s disappointing. Sometimes it happens, you kind of just move on and go to the next game.”
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However, Mahomes made sure to shout out the Chiefs defense for continuously stopping the high-powered Bengals offense at the goal line at the end of the game.
“The defense did a heck of a job getting those stops there at the end, it didn’t work in our favor, but when you’re getting six stops at the goal line that could’ve pushed the game to overtime, that’s all you can ask for from the defense,” he said. “The penalties didn’t go our way, and we didn’t get to win.”
Burrow, Reid React to Officiating
The Chiefs weren’t the only team at Paul Brown Stadium in Week 17 that acknowledged the officiating was in Cincinnati’s favor. Even Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow admitted it.
“It was a great feeling. We got a little lucky at the end. We got some calls, but sometimes you gotta get a little lucky,” Burrow said after the game.
Kansas City head coach Andy Reid held back his comments in regards to the officiating in fear the league would punish him.
“I’d like to comment on each [penalty], but I don’t want to be fined,” Reid said during his postgame press conference on Sunday, January 2.
However, Big Red acknowledged that Kansas City will use the loss as a learning experience and get better from it.
“You learn from it. As coaches and players, that’s all you can do,” he said. “The guys battled, and I thought we played aggressive football. We came up short against a good team. We’ll come back, study it, and get better from it.”
Recap of Officiating Blunders
It all began on the very first play in the fourth quarter. On a 3rd-and-3 pass attempt by Burrow to wide receiver Tee Higgins, Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, who seemingly did a great job of covering Higgins, was flagged for pass interference. That play gave the Bengals a first down instead of having to punt from their own 21-yard line.
On the same drive, Burrow completed a pass to rookie Ja’Marr Chase on a 2nd-and-11 play, and Chase was brought down by Sneed after a five-yard pickup on what looked to be a clean tackle by Sneed. But the officials flagged Sneed for unnecessary roughness.
The next display of poor officiating which favored the Bengals was on the final drive of the game when Cincinnati was at Kansas City’s one-yard line. On 4th-and-goal, Burrow threw a pass to running back Joe Mixon, who was stopped short of the goal line. But the officials called holding penalties on both teams, which forced a replay of the down.
On the following play, Burrow threw an incomplete pass to wideout Tyler Boyd, who was being covered by Sneed. However, Sneed was flagged for illegal use of hands to the face, which gave Cincinnati a fresh set of downs with 45 seconds left in the game. From there, the Bengals drained the clock with kneel-downs and kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired.
While the last play was the most believable of all the controversial calls made late in the game, it was nevertheless a hard pill to swallow given what had already transpired.