The New England Patriots intercepted a pass and then the Kansas City Chiefs punted 40 seconds later.
Confused? So were we.
Patriots linebacker Shilique Calhoun seemingly intercepted a pass Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw while under pressure late in the first half of New England’s 26-10 loss to Kansas City.
Not so fast.
The officials called this play a sack instead.
Here was referee Tony Corrente’s explanation:
“I felt that he was being controlled quite a bit prior to him actually going to the ground,” Corrente said. “And as he was being controlled, other players were coming in at him. And so with those other players baring 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.”
A whistle wasn’t heard until the ball was in Calhoun’s hand. Corrente seemingly never announced what the officials had seen on the play either.
Therefore, it led to the question of why Patriots head coach Bill Belichick didn’t call a timeout or throw a challenge flag to figure out what was going on before the Chiefs could run their next play, a punt. It didn’t help that CBS rules analyst Gene Steratore said on the broadcast that Belichick could have challenged the play.
Corrente said Belichick couldn’t have thrown a challenge flag.
“No, because the play was shut down and stopped prior to the fumble occurring, or prior to him losing control of the football,” Corrente said. “There was no reviewable aspect of that play.”
Belichick knew he couldn’t challenge the play.
“He called forward progress, and he was down,” Belichick said. “You can’t challenge that. He called him down. He called forward progress. That’s what I thought he called.”
Belichick deferred to Corrente when asked if the official had given a sufficient explanation of what occurred in real time on the field. Belichick wouldn’t say if he knew exactly what Corrente had called before the Chiefs punted the ball away.
Calhoun still was running with the football when the play was blown dead. The Patriots were not able to score before the end of the first half in what was one of many bounces that didn’t go New England’s way in a winnable game against a good team without its star quarterback.