Something fishy happened in that Texans-Chiefs call

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There was no pool report, no video from Al Riveron. And there likely will be no public admission regarding the conversation(s) that resulted in a key defensive pass interference foul being wiped out in the Texans-Chiefs game.

But something fishy happened, as evidenced by the images broadcast by CBS.

It occurred with the Chiefs leading 17-9 in the second quarter, and driving for more with a first down on the Houson 32. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes fired a deep ball to the end zone, and it was intercepted by Texans defensive back Tashaun Gipson.

Referee Shawn Hochuli initially informed the fans in the stadium and the TV audience that Texans defensive back Lonnie Johnson Jr. had committed defensive pass interference on Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, with the video showing Johnson grabbing Kelce and driving him into the ground. Then, as the teams were lined up for the next play at the spot of the infraction (the Houston 23), Hochuli and two other officials huddled. During the conversation, one of the other officials clearly can be seen pressing his finger against his ear, it what most likely was an attempt to better hear whatever someone was saying to him.

PFT has learned that replay review definitely was not involved in this decision. This means that no one should have been talking to any of the officials regarding whether or not the call for pass interference should have been changed, or whether some other penalty should have been called.

After the consultation, Hochuli announced “the contact that was potentially a hold was while the ball was in the air; it is not pass interference, because it was not on the receiver that caught the ball.” While a little clunky on the back end, the point was that the officials concluded, apparently with input from either the replay official or 345 Park Avenue, that the blatant hold on Kelce happened while the ball was in the air, and that Kelce wasn’t the intended receiver — making the ball uncatchable as to him and thus resulting in no interference.

But the contact on Kelce seems to have clearly commenced and continued before Mahomes threw the ball. Thus, if there was going to be any type of consultation (even if technically unauthorized by the procedures for helping the officials on the field), someone should have told the officials that Johnson committed defensive holding on Kelce, with the interception nullified and possession given to the Chiefs, first and 10 from the Houston 27.

The league declined comment on this play; a source with knowledge of the situation informed PFT that it’s ultimately a judgment call for the officials on the field. The problem is that it looks like someone else’s judgment was involved — and that the judgment was erroneously exercised.

Ultimately, it was a key moment in the game. Tony Dungy called it the turning point on Sunday’s Football Night in America. Houston, with the ensuing touchback, drove the ball the length of the field and scored a touchdown, making the score 17-16 when it could have been 24-9, if the Chiefs had scored a touchdown after rightfully keeping possession.

The Chiefs are upset, as they should be. And the league should be more transparent when mistakes like this happen.  Ultimately, that’s the best way to keep mistakes like this from happening again — and to keep fans from thinking that the simplest explanation is that someone, somewhere wanted the Texans to win the game.

43 responses to “Something fishy happened in that Texans-Chiefs call

  1. Chiefs for once don’t get a gift wrapped game by officials and they act like life is so unfair. Your opponents deal with crazy calls every other week.

  2. Goodell plays favorites, so you know you’ve made the big time when things like this happen to your team. NO last year for example. Look at all lies, fabrications, and rule changes the League has made up to hold back the Pats over the last2 decades…

  3. It’s not a confirmed conspiracy until the TV talking heads start saying it’s a terrible rule but one that was called correctly…

  4. Oh, yes, the Chiefs are on their way to becoming the new Pats in this regard. Truth be told though, they’ll never win when it counts with Andy Reid at the helm. And the KC defense blows.

  5. Kelce should get more decisions going against him anyway, he pushes off every other play and holds whenever the ball isn’t going to him – he held on the Chiefs’ previous TD – yes it was nowhere near the action, but then nor were Johnson and Kelce on the interception play. One thing’s for sure – it that was Park Ave on the line it would’ve def gone in Chiefs’ favor.

  6. In the last Dallas drive of the Cowboys-jets game, the refs called 3 soft garbage penalties on the Jets defense and then almost to make up for it made 2 really bad calls on the Cowboys offense. 5 flags in a game deciding drive. The REFBALL has become unwatchable. No one knows what a catch or pass interference is. The rules expert on the telecast gets the call wrong most of the time and then is miffed by the decision on the field. It waters down the quality of the game and you end up wondering whether they’re inept, incompetent, or something more sinister is at play.

  7. Houston was The better yesterday plain and simple take the loss like men kc and your fans.

  8. Yeah . . . lots of fans like it when the Chiefs lose. So what? I like it when the Cowboys lose.

  9. There are questionable calls in every game in the NFL nowadays. You never know if the league wants a particular team to win over the other or if they are just trying to keep certain games competitive. I doubt very seriously the league wants the Chiefs to have two losses in a row. With all the Mahomie love going on right, the league would want a Pats vs Chiefs AFC division championship for the ratings alone…followed by the Pats winning yet another SB. The officials missed plenty of blocks in the back by the chiefs on some of their big run gains as well. Missed calls, blown calls and questionable calls are just to be expected now in this league.

  10. Forget the score or the outcome for a second; even forget what team you support. Do you guys realise the kind of dangerous precedent this sets? Anyone with any contacts get this to a head coach ASAP

    According to their definition of the rules;
    If the ball is in being thrown the left side of the field and ‘whilst it’s in air’, apparently every defender not in the vicinity of the play can throw a WR or TE into the ground and not get penalized for interference. As best they could get you on illegal contact which it only 5 yards and first down. Just spend the first quarter destroying all WR’s on the other side of the field. 10 penalties for 50 yards but you get to beat the crap of your rival team exhaust all there WR’s. Called it here first people. If this isn’t swept under the rug its going to get ugly real quick

  11. Isn’t the explanation potentially simpler? They were reminded that PI only applies to the intended receiver? Hochuli’s judgement wasn’t illegal contact or defensive holding, but PI. He messed up. A challenge would’ve resulted in the same outcome, right? There was no DPI. They can’t review illegal contact or defensive holding.

  12. Florio, isn’t it apparent that with the ear pieces, NY is in direct contact with all games monitoring and directing. The fix is in, and we better get used to it, the game is fine on its own, people with insane $$ and influence are ruining it.

  13. 35 passes – 10 runs; Bad defense; this is how Andy Reid always loses games. No official help is necessary.

  14. Then the Pass Interference on Kelce on 4th down that was clear and evident. Not over turned by review. The very next play, there was PIT on the Chiefs for much less than what was not called. At least be consistent. The Chiefs had enough problems on their own, without the REFs adding to it.

  15. Well they refs also screwed up on the non-reversal of the pick play that was challenged by Houston. It was the very definition of a pick play and the same one they used in the AFCCG, that they also scored on and was never called.

  16. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have allowed at LEAST 180 yards rushing the past 4 games and the offense has only scored 37 points the past 2 games.

    Keep pointing at one bad call though.

  17. Is there any correlation to be drawn from the NFL rule changes over the last few years to the legalization of wagering on NFL? My opinion, they absolutely go hand in hand.

    Thumbs Up 👍🏻 if you feel the same.
    Thumbs down 👎🏻 if you don’t, and that you don’t think games/scores/production is not being manipulated from time to time by the powers that be.


  18. This was not an appropriate use of that strategy. What would have been a appropriate was during the Saints Rams playoff game last year… that someone would have been ordered to drop an extremely late flag for PI, then deal with the ramifications of not dropping it “on time”

  19. The ref who threw the flag obviously didn’t see the contact until the ball was in the air. Erroneously, throwing a flag for pass interference. There is also at least one other official on the sideline that is in on all conversations. Perhaps, just perhaps, it was he who helped ensure that the rules were applied correctly. Wether you agree that the “holding “ was a hold or simply the wrestling that every tight end does at the top of their route, the ref didn’t think it was a penalty until the ball was in the air. Either way, it had zero effect on the play because the ball was never going there. Maybe the ref assumed Kelce was just running another pick play

  20. I’ve always been a big proponent of replay but the way it is being applied now is ridiculous. The PI is a fiasco. We didn’t used to know what a catch was, now we have no clue what PI is. Refs are dominating the games, making them so less watchable. Someone needs to clean up this mess.

  21. The Chiefs had 5 offensive plays in the 4Q for -3 yards. Their defense is garbage and couldn’t get off the field. That’s why they lost. Not some mysterious bad call in the 1st half.

  22. Do you even know if any of the officials other than the referee is able to communicate with the league office? The reason that each crew member has a mike and ear piece is for him/her to be able to communicate with the other crew members on the field. It’s most likely the case that the official holding his finger to his ear was listening to one or more of the other crew members.

    I’m not defending the call, but there is a plausible explanation for the situation other than someone not on the field getting involved.

  23. Mahomes threw the ball to the corner of the end zone where #13 was finishing his route. Kelce was at the 23 yard line. No way Kelce was the intended receiver even if he did get knocked to the ground.

  24. This should be a wake-up call to the Chiefs. They can’t keep playing half-games and expect to win anything. In the playoffs with New England, they were scoreless in the first half. In this game, they only scored in 2 of 4 quarters, and only 7 points in the second half.

    They don’t have the defense to just score up front and then hold a team off for 3 quarters. If they don’t develop some consistency across the entire game, they’re just wasting everyone’s time this season.

  25. This PI rule is a joke to appease Saints fans…It’s a freakin nightmare… Get rid of it and move on. Jeez!!!!

  26. No mention of Fuller being flattened on the deep ball that was picked, at the end of the first half?

  27. The call made no sense at all. Sure it might not have been pass interference since the ball wasn’t thrown to him, but, it was easily holding or illegal contact.

  28. This is nothing as everybody following a team that has played in lambeau well knows the Refs are good for at least 3-4 pro Packer call or non calls. The last Vikings game there is Video Proof with 2 video freeze shots with the play clock at double zeros and the center still had his hands on the ball not moving on the ground but they got the cushion on both calls

  29. Losers blame the refs. The Chiefs had PLENTY of other opportunities to win that game but didn’t execute any of them.

  30. I think the officials got it right. It was not interference but defensive holding. I suspect they asked for help in getting the line of scrimmage and the time right. Not necessarily something fishy.

  31. The NFL fixes some games. After this, the Lions-GB game, and many other examples, people can’t deny it anymore. They make up their own rules, look at the scoreboard or get illegal calls to their headsets, it’s totally fixed.

  32. Houston earned that W! They were losing big early but stuck to their game plan and overcame their share of turnovers, 3 dropped TD receptions, costly and questionable penalties, and multiple missed kicks!

    The Texans won because KC couldn’t stop the run, our defense shut them down the last 3 quarters, and we controlled the clock. Watson outplayed Mahomes and Obie our coached Reid. Simple as that.

    Give credit where credit is due!

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