What Andy Reid, Chiefs (and referee) said about controversial offsides flag vs. Bills

Kansas City Chiefs center Creed Humphrey (52) holds back quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) as he yells at an official during an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023, in Kansas City.

Andy Reid is typically measured when asked about officiating and flags, looking to avoid both headlines and fines.

Which made the Kansas City Chiefs coach’s responses particularly notable following KC’s 20-17 home loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night.

Reid didn’t just want to talk about a controversial offensive offsides flag called on receiver Kadarius Toney late in the fourth quarter that wiped out a potential go-ahead touchdown.

It’s all he wanted to discuss in his postgame news conference, declining questions about other topics.

“I never use any of this (officiating) as excuses, but normally I get a warning before something like that happens in a big game,” Reid said of the offsides flag. “A bit embarrassing in the National Football League for that to take place.”

Reid repeated in his subsequent response that the call was “a bit embarrassing” for the NFL, also saying he “didn’t have a protractor out there” to judge whether Toney was slightly misaligned.

“I’ve been in the league a long time, and I haven’t had one like that — not where at least that kind of a position there where it’s not given a heads-up to,” Reid said.

The anger was magnified because of the wiped-out result. Toney’s infraction nullified a 49-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes, where tight end Travis Kelce ran for 25 yards, then threw a lateral cross-field to Toney, who went the final 24 to get in the end zone.

Instead of scoring to go ahead 23-20 with 1:12 left and an extra point to come, KC later had its final drive stall out with a turnover on downs.

Mahomes wasn’t happy either, spiking his helmet on the sideline after the series before screaming at officials — he then had to be restrained by teammates. The quarterback said he asked three officials about the call after the game, but none gave him an explanation.

His biggest frustration was the flag canceling a “Hall of Fame play” that Kelce made.

“I’m lost for words, man. It’s just tough,” Mahomes said. “Because regardless of if we win or lose, man, just for it to end with another game we’re talking about the refs, it’s just not what we want for the NFL or for football.”

Mahomes also reiterated a point he shared the previous week when he refused to blame officials for missing a potential missed late defensive pass interference call in the Chiefs’ road loss to the Packers. The KC quarterback said he’d prefer the players on the field determine the result in the final minutes.

“And then whatever happens, happens,” Mahomes said. “The whole throwing the flag and deciding the game, one or another, that’s what hurts me. That’s why last week, I didn’t say anything. Because it’s letting us play, man. Let us go out there and win the game.”

The game’s referee, Carl Cheffers, explained the down judge’s ruling in a pool report interview after the game.

Cheffers said when a receiver is lined up so far that he’s blocking an official’s view of the ball while looking down the line of scrimmage, he’s going to get called offside. He also said if the Chiefs or their receivers sought out alignment advice on the play, officials would certainly give that to them.

Ultimately, however, Cheffers said players on the field are responsible for where they line up.

“If it’s egregious enough, it would be beyond a warning,” Cheffers said. “So really regardless of whether or not he was wanted at other times during the day, if it was an egregious alignment to where he was over the ball — whether he had warnings or not — it would still be a foul.”

When asked if this was an instance of Toney’s violation being “egregious,” Cheffers said, “Correct.”

Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon, when asked about the flag after the game, smiled wide before he started to talk.

“The refs had it out for us tonight, huh?” he said with a grin. “I don’t really know what was going on, man. It was a helluva play by Trav, and KT (Kadarius Toney) ... I haven’t got too much to say about the call or the calls that took place tonight.”

Chiefs receiver Justin Watson revealed in the locker room he wasn’t satisfied with the ruling, either. Before speaking to reporters, he viewed a screenshot of Toney’s placement on his cellphone.

“I wanted to hold judgment till I saw it, and I just think the picture speaks for itself,” Watson said. “And I’ll leave it at that.”

Reid said he didn’t get an explanation from an official on the call. He said part of his anger stemmed from the fact that the Chiefs played better Sunday than in past weeks but still were leaving with a loss.

One that could’ve easily been a win, he figured, if a specific flag hadn’t been thrown.

“That’s what’s disappointing about that,” Reid said, “when somebody’s going to sleep good tonight and a lot of guys aren’t.”