Chiefs offside penalty, explained: How Kadarius Toney ruined Travis Kelce’s ‘legendary’ lateral TD pass vs. Bills

Chiefs offside penalty, explained: How Kadarius Toney ruined Travis Kelce’s ‘legendary’ lateral TD pass vs. Bills

Kadarius Toney

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Wide receivers have been costing the Chiefs all season. And Kadarius Toney might have just delivered the most crushing moment for a Kansas City wideout this year.

Toney appeared to be the hero for the Chiefs. Travis Kelce had caught a pass deep down the field, then lateraled it back to Toney, who raced into the end zone to score what appeared to be a go-ahead touchdown against the Bills with just over a minute to play. A touchdown would have made it 23-20, pending the PAT.

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The problem? Toney had lined up offsides, negating the big play and backing the Chiefs up five yards. Patrick Mahomes threw three straight incompletions, and the Bills left Kansas City with the 20-17 win, and a 3-1 record favoring Josh Allen over Mahomes in the regular season.

Play was called back but can’t believe Kelce tried this 😮

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📱: Stream on #NFLPlus

— NFL (@NFL) December 11, 2023

Kelce caught the pass and charged through the defense before heading right into a defender at the Bills’ 20. Rather than take the tackle, he looked back over the field, saw Toney wide open at the 25 and heaved the ball over to him. Toney caught it and raced it into the end zone.

However, on review, it was clear Toney had his foot across the line of scrimmage, which negated the big play.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid was quick to defend his receiver for the error, saying the officials should have let Toney know he was offsides.

“Normally I get a warning before that’s called,” Reid said. “A bit embarrassing for the National Football League for that to take place.”

Mahomes was visibly frustrated after the game and could be seen yelling at officials, at one point needing to be held back by teammates.

He explained after the game that he felt games should not come down to narrow penalties, and he felt the flag changed the outcome of the game. He also defended Toney, saying that typically players have conversations with officials, who will tell them whether they’re offsides or not.

“The flag today was tough. Offensive offsides. You point to the ref, you’re good or not good. You have a discussion. That’s the ref’s job. For him to throw that flag, no explanation or anything,” Mahomes said. “I saw the picture. He’s barely offsides. It didn’t affect the play at all. At all.”

CBS Sports rules analyst Gene Steratore defended the officiating on the play, saying that Toney was “blatantly” lined up offside, and said that while those calls are rare not because it should not have been a penalty, but because receivers rarely line up offsides.

Referee Carl Cheffers was asked in a pool report after the game about the call, and explained that Toney’s alignment being over the ball was something that merited an offensive offsides call. Responding to Reid’s claim that Toney wasn’t warned, Cheffers said he was unsure if receivers had been warned about it during the game, but also noted it is not the responsibility of the official to make sure offensive players are onsides.

“Ultimately, if they look for alignment advice, certainly we are going to give it to them. But ultimately, they are responsible for wherever they line up,” Cheffers said. “And, certainly, no warning is required, especially if they are lined up so far offsides where they’re actually blocking our view of the ball. So, we would give them some sort of a warning if it was anywhere close, but this particular one is beyond a warning.”

Kelce has plenty of experience throwing the football. He was a quarterback in high school and went to Cincinnati as a quarterback before he wound up changing positions to tight end.

And Kelce has often shown a willingness to lateral the ball during games in the right moments, including earlier this year in a game against the Broncos.

The wide receivers have been the focal plenty of much criticism toward the Chiefs struggles this year. Rookie Rashee Rice is the only Chiefs wide receiver who entered Week 14 with more than 22 catches and more than 340 receiving yards. Toney came into the game with 22 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown.

The Chiefs are clearly not happy a narrow call at the end of the game wound up impacting the outcome of the contest. But given how those calls have often seemed to go Kansas City’s way in recent years, don’t expect the NFL world to have much sympathy for the Chiefs.

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