Two of the AFC’s best teams, the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots, recently faced off with the Chiefs prevailing, 23-16. While the athletes involved were some of the best in the NFL, one aspect of the game was incredibly sloppy: the officiating.
The Patriots felt that several calls went against them. It inspired a lot of backlash within their fan base, who recommended dire consequences. Let’s take a closer look at the questionable calls.
Blown calls in the Chiefs vs. Patriots game
Before detailing this officiating crew’s mistakes, it helps to put this into context: officiating NFL games is difficult. NFL referees do something each week that the average person could not.
Officials face intense scrutiny, sometimes experiencing as much if not more pressure than the players. Refs get more calls right than wrong. That said, this game was not a great workday for NFL referees. FootballZebras summarized some of the blown calls in the game:
- Stephen Gilmore recovered a Travis Kelce fumble ruled dead. After reviewing the play, the referees realized it was, in fact, a fumble and awarded New England the ball. Unfortunately for the Patriots, Gilmore would’ve easily returned the fumble for a touchdown had the play not been erroneously ended by the official’s whistle.
- Kansas City was flagged for an illegal hands-to-the-face penalty in the third quarter. Despite this infraction for a 10-yard penalty, the refs mistakenly only made it a five-yard penalty.
- Patriots’ wide receiver N’Keal Harry was ruled out of bounds on a touchdown run despite not actually stepping out of bounds. New England did not have any challenges left and therefore couldn’t overturn the play.
The explanation of the blown calls and referee in question
The head of the crew was Jerome Boger, who’s refereed the NFL since 1999. Following the game, Boger conducted a pool report with Patriots.com reporter Mike Reiss, who specifically asked Boger about the blown touchdown call:
“What led to it was the covering official on the wing was blocked out by defenders. The downfield official who was on the goal line and looking back toward the field of play had that he stepped out at the three-yard line. So, they got together and conferred on that. The final ruling was that he was out of bounds at the three-yard line.”
Needless to say, this provided little comfort for the Patriots and their fans.
The aftermath of the blown calls
Fan reactions were swift and brutal. A Reddit thread on r/Patriots simply posted a picture of Boger with the caption, “Fire this man,” and no other details. It generated over 1,000 comments, many supporting the sentiment.
Patriots’ fans at the game also let the refs have it with negative chants. Although the responses were harsh, it’s hard to argue it wasn’t warranted. Football Zebras summarized it best:
“Rarely, a crew’s performance will illicit this harsh criticism from our platform, but in the case of the Chiefs-Patriots game on Sunday afternoon, an overall performance by the officiating crew has left a blemish on the game that is inherently unavoidable in our sphere, as Jerome Boger’s crew will inevitably be the talk of this game in the coming days.”
Crews get the ability to call playoff games due to their regular-season performance grades. This could see the NFL making this crew unavailable for the postseason.