Lost in the hit that knocked Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce out of Saturday’s wild-card game with a concussion was an apparent fumble by Kelce. Every available replay angle showed the ball come out as Kelce fell to the ground.
Because the play happened in the final two minutes of the first half, Titans coach Mike Mularkey couldn’t have challenged the play. Per rule, the on-site replay official has the responsibility for initiating the replay process; the league office gets involved only if/when the replay official in the press box at the game calls for a review.
Per a league source, the replay official didn’t call for a replay review in this case because, while the ball was seen coming out, it was determined that Kelce recovered the ball while he was on the ground.
The ruling on the field could have been overturned only if there were clear evidence of a recovery by the opposing team. One angle shows that Kelce scooped the ball toward his body just before Titans linebacker Jayon Brown picked it up and ran with it.
Put simply, if a replay review had been ordered, there likely wouldn’t have been clear and obvious evidence to overturn the ruling on the field. If, of course, the “clear and obvious” standard had been properly applied.