Chiefs HC Andy Reid explains why he didn’t challenge Ben Niemann’s forced fumble

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The Kansas City Chiefs failed to challenge a fumble during Sunday’s Week 4 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, and now we know why.

Late in the first quarter, Eagles QB Jalen Hurts completed a quick pass to rookie offensive weapon Kenneth Gainwell. He managed a 15-yard run-and-catch near the Chiefs’ goal line, but he was tackled to the ground by Chiefs LB Ben Niemann who knocked the ball out with a punch. The officials ruled Gainwell down by contact on the play. Philadelphia hurried to the line of scrimmage to snap the ball, completing a short pass to TE Dallas Goedert for a touchdown. The score gave the Eagles a 10-7 lead over Kansas City.

As we’d shortly learn, that play never should have happened. When CBS returned from the post-score commercial break, rules analyst Gene Steratore joined to show an angle of the play clearly showing that Niemann had forced and recovered a fumble on the play.

“I think it’s a great play by Ben Niemann,” Steratore said. “We can see he knocks the ball, it does come lose before Gainwell hits the ground. . . a challenge there would have caused a turnover.”

So what happened? Why didn’t Andy Reid throw the challenge flag on the play? Apparently, there wasn’t a replay with the angle Reid needed quick enough for him to be able to challenge the play.

“Yeah, that was (a fumble), I’ve seen that now on tape,” Reid said. “The problem was we didn’t get any replay on it and it was on that far corner over there away from us. It was hard to see what was going on. Normally you get a replay up, they didn’t present one, so we weren’t able to get a look at it. In hindsight, though, yeah I should have thrown a flag.”

Reid did confirm that the team has someone up in the booth who is responsible for buzzing down on plays like that. The problem is that without replay, their vantage point is no better than Reid’s in that scenario. Reid simply didn’t have enough information to feel comfortable risking a timeout by challenging the play.

“If you start throwing the flag, you want to know what you’re throwing it for,” Reid said. “So you expect replays to show up in a certain amount of time and that didn’t happen. You want to make sure. I’m not going to throw the flag unless I’m absolutely sure that’s what’s going on. Timeouts are valuable in this league, so I should try to keep those close to the vest unless I know something.”

When there isn’t replay and the booth doesn’t have a good look at the play, you have to rely on your players on the field to make the call. As much blame falls on those responsible for making replay available in an equitable and timely fashion, some blame falls on Niemann for not making a better case to his head coach on the sideline.

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