Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones was the second NFL player in as many days to have a sack negated on a controversial roughing-the-passer call.
Jones strip-sacked Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and drew a flag on the same play in the second quarter of the Chiefs' 30-29 win on Monday night.
On a third-and-8 play from the Las Vegas 46-yard line, Jones sacked Carr from behind, swatting away the ball with his right hand and subsequently gaining possession. But Jones came down with his body weight on Carr and was called for roughing the passer by referee Carl Cheffers, wiping out his sack and fumble recovery. The Raiders received an automatic first down and four plays later took a 20-7 lead on a field goal with 17 seconds to go in the half.
"The quarterback is in the pocket and he's in a passing posture," Cheffers explained to ESPN's Adam Teicher in the postgame pool report. "He gets full protection of all the aspects of what we give the quarterback in a passing posture. So, when he was tackled, my ruling was the defender landed on him with full body weight. The quarterback is protected from being tackled with full body weight. My ruling was roughing the passer for that reason."
Cheffers was then asked if the ball being dislodged from Carr's possession should negate the penalty.
"No, because he still gets passing protection until he can defend himself. So, with him being in a passing posture and actually attempting to make a pass, he's going to get full protection until the time when he actually can protect himself. The fact that the ball came out and was subsequently recovered by the defense is not relevant as far as the protection the quarterback gets."
Jones said after that game that such flags should be subject to review to prevent more penalty calls such as Monday night's.
"I think that's the next level we're going to have to take as a league for all these roughing the passers," Jones said.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was visibly irate at the call, the home crowd was likewise incensed and social media exploded in disdain.
As noted by NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero, the flag on Jones emanates from the same sentence of the rulebook cited for a pivotal Sunday call against Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman Grady Jarrett. Jarrett "unnecessarily" threw Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady to the ground, referee Jerome Boger explained after the game.
The aforementioned section of the rulebook, Article 11: Roughing the passer, Section B states: "When tackling a passer who is in a defenseless posture (e.g., during or just after throwing a pass), a defensive player must not unnecessarily or violently throw him down or land on top of him with all or most of the defender's wait. Instead, the defensive player must strive to fall to the side of the quarterback's body, or brace his fall with his arms to avoid landing on the quarterback with all or most of his body weight."
While Jones did come down with his weight on Carr, it appeared he was incapable of falling to the side with how the action played out. Jones also said he attempted to brace his fall.
"It happened so fast," Jones said. "You know, it kind of looked like that initially, but when you actually look at it through the video and slow it down, you see I kind of braced. And the ref might've seen just a big 300-pound man land on him [Derek Carr] and I get it. I'm not saying the ref is wrong, but I'm just saying those situations can affect the game tremendously. Especially, in the playoffs, a critical situation like that, a game-changing play, it can affect the whole (expletive) game. Excuse my language but we just have to take initiative as a league and see what we can do better."