NFL officials attempted to explain what happened on a controversial third down in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals.
On 3rd down with a little more than 10 minutes to play in the game, the Bengals stopped the Chiefs to bring up what was thought to have been fourth down. However, officials determined that a whistle was blown before the ball was snapped and instead of the Chiefs getting ready to punt they got another chance to try and convert on third down.
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The noise in Arrowhead Stadium apparently prevented the other officials from hearing the whistle. Bengals coach Zac Taylor was irate on the sideline. On the next play, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was sacked for an 8-yard loss, but Bengals cornerback Eli Apple was called for holding on the play.
In the pool report, officials explained what was going on. Pro Football Writers Association reporter Ben Baby asked referee Ron Torbert to explain what happened on the replayed third down.
“On the previous play, there was an incomplete pass. We spotted the ball, but the line judge came in and re-spotted the ball because the spot was off,” Torbert explained. “We reset the play clock and the game clock started running. It should not have started running because there was an incomplete pass on the previous play.
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“The field judge noticed that the game clock was running. He was coming in to shut the play down so that we could get the clock fixed but nobody heard him and the play was run. After the play was over, he came in and we discussed that he was trying to shut the play down before the ball had been snapped. So, we reset the game clock back to where it was before that snap and replayed third down.”
The play enraged some fans on social media. Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase was among those upset with the extra down.
Luckily, for the Bengals, the defense was able to hold strong against the Chiefs and force them to punt after three extra plays.
On Cincinnati’s next drive, Joe Burrow threw an interception. The score stayed tied 20-20 for the time being with less than 7 minutes to play.
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Harrison Butker would kick the go-ahead field goal with a few seconds left to play.