Fumbles are among the trickiest calls in the NFL and very often require the use of replay to determine whether the player who fumbled was down by contact or not. So it makes those kinds of plays even more frustrating when the referee stops the play when they think there’s no fumble only to find out later that it wasn’t.
That’s exactly what happened late in the third quarter in today’s Patriots-Chiefs game, and the blown call may have completely swung the game.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce caught a slant pass and was tackled by a Patriots defender and appeared on first look to be down. But the ball popped out and was promptly picked up and run back.
However, the referees blew the play as down by contact and prevented the Patriots defender from going for the endzone.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 8, 2019
But a Patriots challenge would clearly show that Kelce fumbled the ball. Had the defender been allowed to continue the play, there’s little doubt he would have scored a defensive touchdown.
The Patriots were ultimately forced to settle for a field goal on the drive, burning a ton of time off the clock in the process. That may come back to bite them later in this game.
This isn’t by any means the first time this has happened this season. The New Orleans Saints had an identically blown-call go against them in their 27-9 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2.
Knowing the NFL, a convoluted, easily-misinterpreted rule change could be coming to keep this play from affecting a playoff game… Hopefully before, and not after.