By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
It’s hard to blame the Patriots’ 23-16 loss to the Chiefs solely on the officiating. The most controversial calls would have only allowed them to tie the game or get within three points, after all.
But there’s no way around it this time: the officiating in this game was unacceptably poor. For such an important game in the AFC landscape to be marred by such laughable judgment on the part of Jerome Boger’s crew just boggles the mind.
Chief among the mistakes by Boger and the officials was on one of N’Keal Harry’s two offensive snaps, when he appeared to score a touchdown but was ruled on the field to be out of bounds. Problem is, Harry’s foot was clearly in bounds, by at least a few inches. It wasn’t even a borderline call, just an egregious ruling by the official who made it.
Apparently, it wasn’t Boger who ruled Harry out of bounds but the official who had a view of the play on the sideline. Unfortunately, that official believed he saw Harry step out of bounds. That is not what happened. He saw something that wasn’t there.
The play should have been a touchdown that potentially would’ve cut the Chiefs’ lead to 23-20 at the time. The Patriots had to settle for a field goal after the flat-out robbery by Boger’s crew.
“What led to it [not being called a touchdown] was the covering official on the wing was blocked out by defenders,” said Boger in a pool report. “The downfield official who was on the goal line and looking back toward the field of play had that he stepped out at the three-yard line. So, they got together and conferred on that. The final ruling was that he was out of bounds at the three-yard line.”
But why not just call it a touchdown in that moment? It would have been an easy play to review and overturn had Harry actually stepped out of bounds. But Boger said that the official who had the power to rule it a touchdown ruled out of bounds, so crossing the plane of the goal line didn’t even factor into their conference.
“Those two officials who were covering it, they look at it in real time,” Boger said. “This case was unique in that the guy who would have ruled touchdown had him short. So maybe if that ruling official on the goal line had a touchdown, we could have gotten into that, but he thought that that guy stepped out of bounds. The goal line wasn’t in the play.”
Harry’s reaction was exactly what it should’ve been.
“I mean, I thought it was a touchdown and I’m pretty sure everybody else saw it was a touchdown,” Harry said. “Something that’s out of our control, out of my control.”
Compounding problems was that another egregious call burned the Patriots’ last challenge of the game, so they weren’t able to challenge the out-of-bounds call on Harry. On the Chiefs’ previous possession, they ruled that Travis Kelce was down by contact despite clearly fumbling the ball. That forced Bill Belichick to use his second and final challenge. The play was also inexplicably whistled dead, which stopped the Patriots from a potential scoop-and-score touchdown.
So the officials ultimately screwed the Patriots out of a touchdown on consecutive possessions, both of which would have made it a three-point game with the Chiefs on their heels and the Patriots rallying. Boger and his poor officiating wasn’t necessarily the deciding factor in this one, but it was certainly a factor and a very bad, ugly one.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.