Marquez Valdes-Scantling sat in the corner of the Chiefs’ locker room late Sunday night, undoubtedly the center of attention among reporters following a 27-19 road loss to the Green Bay Packers.
There was good reason for that. Valdes-Scantling was the main character during one of the game’s most important moments, as with the Chiefs trailing by eight on their final drive, he broke free down the middle of the field.
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes fired a deep ball, and Green Bay cornerback Carrington Valentine appeared to go over Valdes-Scantling’s back before the ball got there to knock it away.
This play was not called for pass interference for the Chiefs late in the game vs. the Packers pic.twitter.com/C8XIRUqu0N
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) December 4, 2023
The Chiefs’ sideline erupted for a flag. NBC’s rules analyst said it “obviously” should have been an infraction.
So what did Valdes-Scantling think?
“I don’t know, man. I didn’t see it. I was on the ground, so I couldn’t tell you,” Valdes-Scantling said. “I know I tried to catch the ball, and I couldn’t.”
Valdes-Scantling threw up his arms after the contact, clamoring for a penalty. None was given, and the Chiefs later were stopped on their final desperation drive.
After the game, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he never received an explanation on the non-call. Valdes-Scantling said the nearest official didn’t look at him.
“Obviously, he didn’t want to talk to me. I went to talk to him, and we had nothing to talk about,” Valdes-Scantling said. “So back to the huddle.”
Referee Brad Allen was later questioned about the no-call via an official NFL pool report. Specifically, he was asked what his crew saw on that snap.
“On every play where there may or may not be pass interferences, either offensive or defensive, the covering official has to rule whether contact materially restricts the receiver,” Allen said. “And in this case, the covering officials were in good position and ruled that there was no material restriction that rose to the level of defensive pass interference.”
Allen said his crew did not rule the pass to be uncatchable.
“The covering official simply did not feel that there was the level of contact that rose to a material restriction for defensive pass interference,” Allen said.
Mahomes had mixed emotions during his news conference afterward.
The Chiefs quarterback regretted not throwing it deeper to Valdes-Scantling. He said if he’d done that, he could’ve foreseen a touchdown on the play, with the refs not needing to get involved anyway.
Should it have been a flag, though?
“It is what it is, man. Obviously, the guy was probably a little early, but at the end of the game, they’re letting guys play. I’m kind of about that. I’d rather you let guys play and let guys win it on the field,” Mahomes said. “But it’s a hard job, man. When we’re in that situation, I can’t be wanting a flag. I have to try to go out there and win the game myself and with the rest of my teammates.”
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, while in front of his locker, refused to pin the Chiefs’ problems on that singular moment.
“I ain’t going to blame this thing on anybody but ourselves, man,” Kelce said.
It was one of many questionable calls down the stretch. Another was an unnecessary roughness penalty on Green Bay’s Jonathan Owens, as the safety was given a 15-yard markoff for a sideline hit on Mahomes when the KC quarterback still appeared to be inbounds.
The no-call on Valentine will likely draw the bigger headlines this week, however, with a prime-time audience seeing multiple angles of Valentine appearing to go over Valdes-Scantling’s back early.
“It’s up to the officials,” Valdes-Scantling said of making that particular call. “I can’t control what they do or don’t do.”