KANSAS CITY. Mo. — It can’t be a playoff game without a controversial call, right?
A head-scratching moment of Kansas City’s AFC Championship Game victory over the Bengals on Sunday came in the fourth quarter when it looked like the officials gave the Chiefs a do-over on a third-and-9 attempt.
Ron Torbert’s officiating crew realized a clock issue, and one of the officials ran on the field trying to stop a play before the ball was snapped — but no one heard the whistle.
The officials felt the play should be a re-do on a third-and-9 attempt as the call came in late due to a clock malfunction. On the second down play, quarterback Patrick Mahomes took the snap and threw a short pass to running back Jerick McKinnon, which fell incomplete.
The clock operator then stopped the game time but restarted the clock when the referees blew the whistle to signal the next snap. An official on the far side of the field behind the Bengals’ defense ran out as Mahomes took the snap, trying to call the play dead, but none of the players heard the whistle.
Mahomes threw a short pass to tight end Travis Kelce, who was tackled short of the first down marker. Bengals players celebrated the stop, as they thought they forced a Chiefs punt with punter Tommy Townsend running on the field to kick the ball back to the Bengals.
Torbert stopped the punting team from running onto the field to announce the clock operator didn’t stop the game clock and the play had been blown dead. The Chiefs then were allowed to replay the third down.
Bengals defensive lineman B.J. Hill sacked Mahomes on the next play, but cornerback Eli Apple was called for holding. The penalty gave the Chiefs an automatic first down.
“On the previous play, there was an incomplete pass,” Torbert said of the situation after the game, via the pool report.
“We spotted the ball, but the line judge came in and re-spotted the ball because the spot was off. 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.”
“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.”
Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said in his press conference that the “whistle had blown somewhere” before the play but also did not hear it.