KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Referee Carl Cheffers said he followed the roughing the passer rule when he penalized Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones late in the first half of Kansas City’s come-from-behind 30-29 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday night.
The Chiefs had just scored to trim their deficit to 17-7 when Jones stripped the ball from Raiders quarterback Derek Carr just before halftime. Jones landed on Carr while also coming up with the ball — replays showed it was clearly loose and that Jones cleanly recovered it — but Cheffers threw a flag for roughing the passer.
Cheffers, in a pool report following the game, explained that he saw Jones land on Carr with his full body weight while the quarterback was in the pocket.
Cheffers said Carr “gets full protection of all 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.”
Cheffers said the fact Jones took the ball away from Carr was irrelevant.
“[Carr] gets passing protection until he can defend himself,” Cheffers said. “Just as if he had thrown the ball, he still gets protection. … That extends until he’s no longer in control of the ball.”
The Chiefs were irate at the penalty, which happened with less than two minutes to go in the half and was not reviewed.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid stormed off the sideline to argue. And after the teams traded field goals in the final minutes, leaving the Raiders ahead 20-10, Reid cornered Cheffers again as the teams headed to the locker room.
“I got it off my chest,” Reid said. “I said what I needed to say.”
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes said he has seen Reid angrier — but not about an official’s call.
Jones said he braced himself with the arm not holding the ball so he wouldn’t land on Carr with his full body weight.
“How should I tackle people?” he said. “How should I not roll on him? I’m trying my best. I’m 325 pounds, OK? What do you want me to do? I’m going full speed trying to get the quarterback.”
Jones referenced a roughing the passer penalty on Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett the day before, for a seemingly innocuous tackle of Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady. The penalty gave the Buccaneers a first down and allowed them to run out the clock in a 21-15 victory, rather than giving the Falcons a chance to drive for the win.
“They have put such an emphasis on roughing the passer penalties that we’ve got to be able to review it in the booth,” Jones said. “That’s the next step. … Sometimes looks can be deceiving. Now it’s getting absurd. Now it’s costing teams games.
“I actually stripped the ball and gravity kind of took me to the ground. That’s a roughing the passer call at a critical situation in the game. It’s third down, and we’re down 10 points. … A lot of these roughing the passer calls would be called back [after video review].”
Mahomes said the penalty on Jones “wasn’t the greatest call in the world” but added that he understood the referee’s dilemma.
“You want to protect the players and everything like that in all aspects of the game; but at the same time, there comes a commonsense factor where guys are trying to play football and trying to win football games,” Mahomes said. “Whenever it’s blatant and they do something dirty to try to hurt someone, you want to make sure that’s called; but at the same time, you don’t want it to affect the football game and change the outcome.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.