Chiefs’ replayed down controversy, explained: Why AFC championship game officials wiped out KC play

The Chiefs vs. Bengals AFC championship game took a turn for the conspiracy-minded when, in a 20-20 game in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs were given an extra shot at convering on third down because of wonky officiating.

With just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation, Kansas City ran a play on third-and-9 that fell short of the first-down marker. As the Chiefs’ offense went to the sideline for an apparent punt, officials convened to discuss the clock.

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Referree Ronald Torbert ruled that the play should be nullified because of a timekeeping mistake on the preceding second-down play, an incomplete pass. The Chiefs were awarded another third-down play, baffling NFL fans watching.

The call apparently came from the league office in New York. An official was coming onto the field from the sideline during the initial third-down play because of the clock issue.

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Fans weren’t the only ones confused. CBS broadcasters Jim Nantz and Tony Romo took issue with the extra play as well and were stunned when the Chiefs’ offense came back onto the field.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor was, unsurprisingly, livid.

On the second third-and-9 play, a defensive holding penalty by Bengals cornerback Eli Apple negated a sack of Patrick Mahomes and gave the Chiefs a first down.

As dangerous as the Chiefs are, however, they picked up just 1 more yard on the series, thus making the difference of the do-over a loss of 1 minute, 10 seconds off the clock — which, in the interest of fairness, was incredibly important at that stage of such a big game.

Kansas City went on to win 23-20 and advance to Super Bowl 57 against the Eagles.

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NFL referee Ron Torbert explained in a pool report from ESPN’s Ben Baby that the reason for the replayed third down was that the ball had to be re-spotted and the play clock and game clock started running, despite the previous play having been an incomplete pass. When the field judge noticed the clock had begun to wind, he tried to shut the play down, but nobody heard him and the play went off. Once the play ended, he came over to explain the situation and called to replay the third down.

Asked if it was the correct decision to replay the down, Torbert said the crew followed normal protocol with how to handle the situation.

“If we were trying to shut down the play and we couldn’t, we would shut it down and go back and replay the down,” Torbert said.

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Unsurprisingly, #NFLRigged immediately started to trend on Twitter as people reacted to the baffling sequence.

Bengals fans already had Torbert’s number after Super Bowl 56 last year, and this is only going to make him more hated.



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