Jerome Boger’s crew missed two potential Patriots touchdowns on ensuing drives.
The first non-call occurred after Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce fumbled late in the third quarter. Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore scooped up the ball and likely would have scored a touchdown, but officials blew the whistle and ruled Kelce down before the ball came out. The Patriots won the challenge which gave them the ball but not Gilmore’s advancement.
“I thought it was a fumble,” Gilmore said. “I picked it up, and they should have let it keep playing. But that’s the ref’s call.”
If the officials had ruled it a scoring play, then it automatically would have been reviewed.
Six plays later, Patriots rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry scampered down the sideline and dove for the pylon, appearing to score a touchdown. Officials ruled him out of bounds at the 3-yard line, however. Replays showed Harry stayed in bounds, but the Patriots were out of challenges, so the play stood as called.
“I thought it was a touchdown,” Harry said. “I’m pretty sure everybody else thought that it was a touchdown. It’s something that’s out of our control.”
The Patriots had to settle for a 29-yard field goal after failing to get into the end zone on three straight plays, cutting the Chiefs’ lead to seven points at 23-16.
“It’s definitely frustrating, but at the end of the day, I was always told to control what I can control, and I did that,” Harry said. “I felt my effort was good, and that’s all I can give.”
The Patriots had the ball at the Chiefs’ 5-yard line late in the game but turned the ball over on downs and couldn’t score a touchdown. Had the officials ruled correctly on Gilmore’s scoop or Harry’s dive, then the Patriots only would have been down by three points, rather than seven, late in the game, and they could have kicked a field goal from their 5-yard line instead of being forced to score a touchdown.
“It’s obviously a tough pill to swallow because obviously we felt we had some plays out there that were negated based off the officiating crew,” safety Duron Harmon said after the game. “It’s just tough, because that’s a really good team, and obviously those plays and those touchdowns that we thought we had, we obviously could have used against a really good team like that.”
Harmon added that he doesn’t want to blame officiating for the loss since the Patriots still had the opportunity to win.
“Obviously it gets frustrating,” wide receiver Phillip Dorsett said. “Calls get made. Calls don’t get made. I know it’s a tough job on the refs, but at the end of the day, it is what it is.”
Dorsett believed he drew a defensive pass interference penalty late in the fourth quarter, but the officials held onto their flags on the play.
“I was really surprised,” Dorsett said. “I was definitely surprised because I was 99 percent confident that I was interfered with, but there wasn’t a call.”
Dorsett stopped short of saying he believed the game was taken from the Patriots.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick seemingly referred to the officiating during the opening statement to his news conference, saying, “It just wasn’t quite good enough under the circumstances in the game. There’s no point in talking about those.”
Belichick wouldn’t address the officiating further.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said blown calls don’t “happen very often.”
“So, it happened,” Brady said. “We still had a chance and wish we could have scored there at the end.”
The Patriots fell to 10-3 on the season. They’re on to Cincinnati, where they’ll play the Bengals on Sunday in Week 15.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images