Multiple teammates consoled Bengals linebacker Joseph Ossai after he drew a late hit penalty that put the Chiefs in position for a field goal that delivered a Super Bowl berth for Kansas City. One teammate in particular was not pleased.
Linebacker Germaine Pratt was yelling on the way to the locker room about the foul.
“It’s the motherfuckin’ last series,” Pratt said to no one in particular. “What the fuck. Why the fuck did you touch the quarterback?”
In Ossai’s defense, he was in a tough spot. If he had pulled up while chasing Mahomes, who had surrendered all protections given to a passer when he became a runner, Mahomes could have ducked back inside and picked up more yards. That’s something we’ve seen quarterbacks do, time and again.
So Ossai kept going. How was he supposed to stop?
The end result was a shove. Mahomes wiped out, making it look even worse.
It would be naive to think quarterbacks don’t know how to time the collision just right to potentially draw those fouls. It’s a basic reality of the league’s obsession with keeping quarterbacks healthy.
The Bengals need to take the time to explain this to Pratt and anyone else in the locker room who may have a problem with Ossai. He was damned if he didn’t pursue Mahomes, and damned if he did.
Unless and until the league fully commits to fully regarding quarterbacks who become runners as something other than quarterbacks, things like this will happen.
It’s no one’s fault when it does. Ossai wasn’t going to pull up. And Mahomes, once he felt a shove on his back, wasn’t about to try to stay up. While not a flop in the soccer sense, Mahomes was smart to let the momentum take him to the ground.
Any smart quarterback would have done the same thing in that spot. And if Ossai had stopped running, any smart quarterback wouldn’t have run out of bounds.