By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
It’s never a good sign when a pool reporter is assigned to speak to the referee after a game. And while the Patriots made too many mistakes to remotely blame Monday’s 26-10 loss to the Chiefs on the officiating, Tony Corrente simply had to answer for an egregious call that unnecessarily shifted the balance in the game.
With less than six minutes to go in the second quarter and the Chiefs up only 6-3, Chase Winovich grabbed a hold of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City QB lost the football. It landed in the hands of Patriots defensive end Shilique Calhoun, who ran it back into the red zone.
Unfortunately, the officials inexplicably whistled the play dead and ruled a sack with forward progress stopped. A fuming Bill Belichick removed his mask to scream at the guys in stripes. Under current NFL rules, such a call cannot be challenged.
The “in the grasp” rule is designed essentially to protect the safety of quarterbacks. There is no clear definition for a QB being “in the grasp,” leaving it up to the referee’s judgment. Here’s how the rule is stated in the rulebook:
The Referee must blow the play dead as soon as the passer is clearly in the grasp and control of any tackler behind the line, and the passer’s safety is in jeopardy.
Mahomes was falling to the ground as the ball came loose, so it’s unclear why Corrente and his crew believed he was in the grasp. Ultimately, it was a poor judgment call.
“I felt that he was being controlled quite a bit prior to him actually going to the ground,” Corrente said, via a pool report. “And as he was being controlled, other players were coming in at him. And so with those other players bearing down on him, a quarterback is considered in the grasp and his forward progress is considered stopped when I feel as though the player’s safety is being jeopardized. And that was the case in this instance. So, rather than allow him to get hit by a second and third player, we shut it down and considered it forward progress at that point.”
These answers rarely help. It’s always some form of “We made what we felt was the right call at the time.” Had they kept the whistles in their pockets for an extra half-second, the Patriots would have had a turnover and a chance to take the lead in the game. Instead, they erred on the side of protecting Mahomes from a third hit that never happened.
The egregious call took away from what was another monster game for Winovich. The “sack” should have been a forced fumble into a turnover, and the second-year pro also logged four tackles (two for a loss) and a QB hit.
Tony Corrente is far from the reason the Patriots lost the game, but he certainly had a moment where viewers had a right to demand answers.
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? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at firstname.lastname@example.org.