The Chiefs appeared to have a late, go-ahead touchdown against the Bills when Travis Kelce lateralled the ball to Kadarius Toney after a long reception and the third-year receiver waltzed into the end-zone untouched.
However, the score was called back by the officials because Toney had lined up offside on the play. Kansas City was never able to generate positive momentum after that penalty, and that allowed Buffalo’s defense to close out a 20-17 win.
The Chiefs, including Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, expressed their displeasure with the call during their postgame news conferences.
“Normally I get a warning before that’s called,” Reid said. “A bit embarrassing for the National Football League for that to take place.”
Despite those intimations from the Chiefs, referee Carl Cheffers believed it was the right call. He came out in defense of the down judge’s judgment in a postgame pool report.
“It’s one of those things we don’t want to be overly technical on, but when his alignment he’s lined up over the ball, that’s something that we are going to call as offensive offside,” Cheffers said of the call. “So that’s what the down judge saw. He saw that the alignment was over the ball and that’s what he ruled on the field. That’s what he called.”
Indeed, as Cheffers detailed, Toney was lined up beyond the back of the ball. That, by definition, requires officials to call an offensive offside, as was noted by former referee turned CBS rules analyst Gene Steratore, among others.