Reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes blew up on the sidelines following Sunday's 20-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills, irate at an offensive offsides penalty called on Kansas City receiver Kadarius Toney that wiped out a Chiefs touchdown.
The venting continued after the contest.
"I mean it's obviously tough to swallow, not only for me but just for football in general; to take away greatness like that for a guy like Travis (Kelce) to make a play like that, and who knows if we win," Mahomes said, via the team's official transcript. "I know as fans you want to see the guys on the field decide the game and that's why last week I didn't say anything about the flag that didn't get called on Marquez (Valdes-Scantling). I mean they're human, they make mistakes, but it's every week we're talking about something and all I can do is go out there and give everything I have and I'm proud of the guys, that's what we did and it was a great football game that ended -- another great football game that just ended like that it's just tough -- tough to swallow."
With 1:25 left in the contest from midfield, Mahomes found Kelce wide-open for a chunk gain. The tight end caught it in stride, weaving toward the field's middle. With three Bills players closing in, Kelce made the ballsy decision to lateral the pigskin to Toney, who scampered in for the would-be touchdown.
The ridiculous play would all be for naught. Toney was flagged at the start of the play for lining up in the neutral zone. A potential lead with 1:12 left was wiped out.
Three incomplete Mahomes passes later, the Bills were kneeling out the victory.
"Very disappointed that it ended the way it did," Reid said. "Normally I'll get -- I never use any of this as excuses, but normally I get a warning before something like that happens in a big game. (It's) a bit embarrassing in the National Football League for that to take place…
"I've been in the league a long time and I haven't had one like that. So, not where, at least in that kind of position there where it is not given a heads up to."
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the NFL will review Reid's postgame comments as there is a long-standing policy against questioning the integrity of the referees, per a source. Rapoport adds that while Mahomes' comments will also be reviewed, his on-field yelling at the referees before the game ended and his on-field comments while the cameras were rolling may present more of an issue.
It's unclear from the CBS video if Toney clearly checked with the sideline referee or was given any instruction on his alignment prior to the play.
"Ultimately, if they looked for alignment advice, certainly we are going to give it to them," referee Carl Cheffers told pool reporter Matt Derrick after the game. "But ultimately, they are responsible for wherever they line up. And, certainly, no warning is required, especially if they are lined up so far offsides where they're actually blocking our view of the ball. So, we would give them some sort of a warning if it was anywhere close, but this particular one is beyond a warning."
Toney appeared clearly in the neutral zone on the play, and the flag was thrown immediately after the snap. That didn't stop Mahomes' frustration with the call, going so far as to complain to Bills QB Josh Allen on the field after the contest.
"It's the call," Mahomes told reporters. "Just in that moment, it's not even for myself or for me, it's just I know how much everybody puts into this game and for it to happen on a flag, change the outcome of a game, in that moment -- I've played seven years and never had that -- never had offensive offsides called, I mean that's elementary school. We talk about (it), I mean you point to the ref, do all that different type of stuff, they warn you and there was no warning throughout the entire game and then you wait until there's a minute in the game to make a call like that, it's tough. I mean lost for words -- it's tough because regardless if we win or lose, just for it to end up with another game and we're talking about the refs, it's just not what we want for the NFL or for football."
Even Allen was surprised the flag was thrown on the Chiefs for offensive offsides.
"I originally thought it was on us," he said. "It's not a flag they usually call."
NFL referees -- and officials in every sport -- miss calls, just as players botch plays. There are plenty of penalties called and not called each week that fairly raise the ire of players, coaches, and fans. It's brutal that this particular call wiped out one of the most fantastic touchdowns of 2023. If Toney lines up a shoe-length back, the hanky remains in the ref's pocket.
Mahomes, who has dismissed missed calls in the past, like the defensive pass interference last week, used this play to make his stand.
"No. The thing is, I'd rather -- let us play man. Let us play the game," he said. "Then whatever happens, happens like the whole throwing the flag and deciding the game one or another, that's what hurts me. That's why like last week I didn't say anything because it's just letting us play. Let us go out there and win the game. I've said I'd rather them let us play and go out there and see who wins, I mean that's what you want as a competitor. You practice all week to go out there and try to win and you want it to be about your team and that team and see what happens. You never want to be talking about this stuff after the game and that's it. I'm not worried about if there's a flag on the next play or whatever like not a flag. I want to go out there and play and then see what happens at the end, see what the score is and then I can live with the results."