If Chargers-Chiefs was a prime-time game, “Fail Mary 2” would have been the topic of the day

NFL: SEP 26 Chargers at Chiefs
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The NFL has benefited from multiple exciting games this season, several of which have happened in prime time. The NFL also has benefited from the fact that Sunday’s game between the Chargers and Chiefs didn’t unfold under the lights.

As noted by former NFL referee and Sunday Night Football rules analyst Terry McAulay, the Hail Mary attempt by Kansas City resulted in multiple instances of uncalled pass interference. Tight end Travis Kelce was wiped out. A bear hug applied to receiver Tyreek Hill kept him from having a shot at making the catch.

Tony Romo of CBS downplayed the situation. “Everyone getting tackled,” he said over the replay, laughing. “They don’t even call these. The reality is you almost can’t.”

You can. And, when appropriate, it’s called.

The fact that the game landed in the cluster of 1:00 p.m. ET kickoffs allowed the NFL to avoid the kind of controversy that would have emerged if, say, it had happened on a Thursday night, Sunday night, or a Monday night. Indeed, Fail Mary of 2012 happened on a Monday night. In that situation, Seahawks receiver Golden Tate blatantly shoved a Packers defensive back before catching the game-winning touchdown pass. Almost immediately, the league ended the lockout of the game officials.

This would have been — and perhaps still should be — Fail Mary 2. An uncalled instance of clear and obvious pass interference that decided a game. Or, more accurately, that prevented the Chiefs from having an untimed down from the one yard line.

In 2019, the league adopted replay review for offensive and defensive pass interference. That system almost certainly would have (or at least should have) drawn a flag, even with the league applying a looser definition of interference in a know-it-when-you-see-it Hail Mary situation. A booth umpire or sky judge could have, should have, and maybe would have communicated to the officials on the field and pointed out the blunder.

Instead, nothing. Crickets. It would have been a plague of locusts, however, if it had happened last night on NBC or tonight on ESPN.

And that’s yet another reason for the NFL to come up with an effective way to fix glaring errors. Merely hoping that the errors aren’t sufficiently glaring is no way to do business.

53 responses to “If Chargers-Chiefs was a prime-time game, “Fail Mary 2” would have been the topic of the day

  1. If it’s clear and obvious it should be called. This was as two Chiefs players were interfered with.

  2. Chiefs players were grabbing chargers players as well. Here’s a thought, don’t let the game come down to a Hail Mary

  3. Football penalties over 15 yards should not exist. If the rule wasn’t so broken as a spot foul then maybe it could be called more consistently and in these Hail Marys situations. The redo attempt 15 yards closer to the end zone is more than enough consequence for committing PI.

    It’s hard to believe the NFL still enforces game breaking, 40+ yard pass interference penalties in the 21st century. It’s truly the dumbest rule in professional sports right now. There has to be analytics on this.

  4. Dolphins had a worse no call in overtime on the end zone, also had another in regulation that was horribly missed

  5. I can remember Chris Hogan getting knocked down during during the Hail Mary attempt at the end of Super Bowl 52 and there was no outcry or demand for a review system to correct missed penalties. That was with a chance to tie a Super Bowl on the line, but, somehow, the Chiefs losing a regular season game is the tipping point with these situations.

  6. > In that situation, Seahawks receiver Golden Tate blatantly shoved a Packers defensive back before catching the game-winning touchdown pass.

    That’s not actually the reason the Fail Mary was controversial, though! It was controversial because a Packers DB clearly caught the ball and a TD was awarded to Seattle anyway after a Seattle receiver got a hand on the ball (without dislodging it from the Packers player’s obvious control).

    Obvious PI on a Hail Mary is nowhere near as bad. Makes the premise of the article seem awfully weak.

  7. Because almost 9 times out of 10 they all end up like that, guys are getting tackled, falling down, etc.The reality is that if they get called PI every single time, what is the actual point of a hail mary? Guys would even start flopping at that point and the ball will be placed at the 1 yard line.

  8. Officiating in the NFL is irrevocably broken. It will never be close to accurate or fair because the league doesn’t insist that it should be.

    This Chiefs fan knows that game should never have come down to a hail Mary. That said, it did come down to that and the receivers getting mugged should have mattered, as it should on any and every hail Mary across the league. I love this game, but I hate a lot of what it has become.

  9. Other than here it wouldnt have been. Everyone knows pass interference happens on every hail mary but unless it’s long before the jump ball in the endzone it’s not called.

  10. Can we now stop with the narrative that Patrick Mahommes is unbeatable at home? He needs to work on his Fail Mary skills. Maybe give Tim Couch a call. The hail marry GOAT.

  11. They called PI on the Vikings last year on a Hail Mary against the Bucs. So it does happen once in a while.

  12. The problem with calling defensive pass interference on a Hail Mary is the penalty. It moves the losing team from a high-probability loss to a high-probability win or tie. That doesn’t seem right. Calling it would be more reasonable if the penalty was 5 yards or something, but it shouldn’t dramatically change the win/lose probability.

  13. As a fan of neither team, it was the right no-call.

    Kelce actually fell on his own.

    As for Hill, he overran the underthrown ball and JUMPED UP at a ball that would’ve hit his knees. Clearly, he didn’t have position and was trying to draw a foul instead of trying to catch it.

  14. if its true that its only about point spreads and gambling then show me how it had anything to do with this ruling.
    chiefs lost by 6,
    td and extra pointgives them 1 point win.
    i believe they were a 3 or 3 1/2 point favorite.

  15. Bottom line is if you’re in a position where the refs need to bail you out, you’ve already lost. There were plenty of chances for KC to run away with this game and they shot themselves in the foot with 2 ugly interceptions and CEH just not practicing basic ball security.

  16. Justice prevailed. KC is playing like an entitled team that reads their press clippings. They don’t deserve any breaks. Right now they’re all flash and style with no substance.

  17. <>

    Yes, Tate shoved Sam Shields before the ball was caught, but the ball was caught by M.D. Jennings and Tate subsequently caught Jennings in the end zone. Golden Tate never once had possession of that pass.

  18. People always whine about the league being fixed for tv contracts and point spreads, but in reality they don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.

    In a lot of the game ending plays they’re talking about, controversial calls have no bearing on the point spread anyway.
    Some do, but there are quite a few that don’t, yet people still cite this as a reason for missed or bad calls.

    And if they were striving for bigger ratings, the Eagles and Bears would win more games and one of the two New York teams would always be relevant.

    The real story is the fact that the officiating hasn’t gotten worse over the years, players just became bigger and faster with tv replays more and more clearer with multiple angles.
    It’s a very difficult job, but I don’t believe it’s ever really changed.
    Stop arguing over the balls and strikes and just enjoy the game for what it is, an imperfect joyride.
    Or remain angry and bitter.
    Your choice.

  19. Just watched it. Looked like Chargers DBs looking at the ball and going for the ball, with players on each side running into each other. Good no call.

  20. It was a mess, but did look like clear enough PI to call. It’s one thing if everyone is going for the ball, but those two Chargers players were just barging through and not even looking back toward the ball.

    I’m sure the time had something to do with it, as does the reality that these are two teams that most of the country doesn’t care about. Plus, it’s week 3 out of 18 – the stakes don’t feel high enough for most people yet.

    It may end up being what both teams most needed – SD needed to close out a game, and KC needed a wake-up call to get their act together. That’s not the basis for penalty calls, but maybe it will work out for the best in this case.

  21. Chiefs had 4 turn overs and deserved the L they got, but that clearly was PI on two accounts. Should have had one last play

  22. Interesting that you want on this and not the Ravens getting away with delay of game two full seconds after the clock hit 00.

    As mentioned here multiple times, the reason they don’t call it is because it too easily flips a game to a losing teams advantage. If owners and coaches wanted it called straight across the line, it would be called straight across the line.

  23. The thing I remember most about the Fail Mary is one ref standing there signaling ‘Touchdown’ with another ref standing next to him ruling ‘Touchback’. Completely forgot about the shove, but will never forget that shot of the refs.

  24. Another bad call was a week ago when the Titans should have been awarded a safety against Wilson …

  25. Illegal contact and PI are the most subjective and poorly called fouls. Often an offensive player initiates contact and the DB is penalized for trying to fend off the contact. PI in the end zone is the most punitive and is best not called unless it is clear obvious and solely initiated by the DB. Everything else should be illegal contact. Hail Mary plays are usually everybody on each side pushing, shoving and if accurately called would have multiple offsetting penalties or you do nothing and for one last play at the end of the game the players and not the referees decide the game. I am good with the latter.

  26. It’s hard to believe the NFL still enforces game breaking, 40+ yard pass interference penalties in the 21st century.

    ———

    In one way I totally agree but if you really think about it, if guys could get away with PI on bombs and only get a 15 yard penalty then that would be the death of the long game. It’s already 50/50 when a guy starts getting beat, if they lowered the penalty guys would be bear hugging receivers non stop. NFL wants big, game swinging plays or the equivalent penalty if need be. I think the Hail Mary is wear they (rightfully) draw the line.

  27. Chickensalad said it best. Maybe it was PI, and maybe it was unfair that it wasn’t called. But it’a ridiculously unfair that teams throw up 50+ yard prayers with virtually no chance of being caught, and a penalty results in that team getting the gift of a play from the 1 yard line.

  28. steveo305 says:
    September 27, 2021 at 7:05 pm
    Dolphins had a worse no call in overtime on the end zone, also had another in regulation that was horribly missed
    ———————
    Shocked by all the “thumbs down” on this. Must be Raider fans. Should have been an easy call with the defender lunging from well behind the receiver. Great view for the official but in Vegas…

  29. Nobody will be shocked to know that the only called Defensive PI on a last second Hail Mary in the last 20 years favored Tom Brady.

    Also that PI on the 4th and 9 was bogus.

  30. It’s clear that the so-called Fail Mary was actually consistent with NFL policy (as they affirmed after it happened). Meanwhile in Seattle’s last game, the Vikings clearly interfered with the Seahawks receiver in the end zone. The receiver was hit just before the ball arrived, and the defender never looked back for the ball. Late in the game when Seattle was trying to mount a come-back. No call. Potentially game-changing missed call late in an early-season game, but no one mentioned it in the news, and years later, no one will still be talking about it.

  31. andymannfl says:
    September 28, 2021 at 8:33 am
    steveo305 says:
    September 27, 2021 at 7:05 pm
    Dolphins had a worse no call in overtime on the end zone, also had another in regulation that was horribly missed
    ———————
    Shocked by all the “thumbs down” on this. Must be Raider fans. Should have been an easy call with the defender lunging from well behind the receiver. Great view for the official but in Vegas…

    That wasn’t even close to being a PI. Fans complain about the league being soft and then want a flag on minimal contact. Now, if you want to call the blatant hold on the same play…

  32. Its so hilarious seeing yall talk about officiating. Chickens comin home to roost, eh?

  33. Hail Mary is just a different play. Everyone is pushing and shoving. If you’re going to call it, then you’ll just have a never ending cycle of offsetting fouls.

  34. Y the difference is mostly that all players hoping to catch it are looking for and st the ball.

    Like the old game flys up really

  35. Sorry, but on a pass like that duck, which didn’t even make it to the endzone, everyone is a receiver. Offensive PI should have been the call.

  36. A team shouldn’t be able to just chuck the ball up and hope for a penalty to win a game.
    That would be the real travesty here.

  37. If Florio made an effort to watch the replay from the end zone camera there were multiple PIs from both the teams. No call was good. I bet he lost wager money and can’t stop barking up this tree.

  38. HAHAHA there’s always an excuse when Kermit doesn’t get the job done. Here is a thought, how about stop throwing off your back foot, stepping up in the pocket when it collapses instead of playing hero ball, and stop closing your eyes and chucking it up hoping 87 or 10 is going to be underneath it. I’m old enough to remember this overhyped qb was getting praise when he was throwing incomplete passes in the superbowl…What a JOKE! Now its time to come down on him for the DUMB mistakes when the ball gets picked. 1-2…..

  39. QBs throw interceptions, recievers drop balls, refs make (or miss) bad calls.
    .
    as a species were imperfect, but what’s done is done. lets move on without the tears.

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