Referees get criticized for controversial calls in Titans-Chiefs playoff opener

Former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira is employed by Fox and not the NFL anymore, and he has generally been honest with his criticism.

Still, his blunt comment about the officials after the Tennessee Titans’ 22-21 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the first game of the NFL postseason was startling.

NFL officials walk in the tunnel before an NFL wild-card playoff football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tennessee Titans. (AP)
NFL officials walk in the tunnel before an NFL wild-card playoff football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tennessee Titans. (AP)

Plenty will agree with that assessment. There were many questionable calls by referee Jeff Triplette and his crew throughout the game. Even on a call the crew got right, Marcus Mariota’s crazy touchdown pass to himself, Triplette explained that it was legal because Mariota was in the shotgun before the play. That didn’t matter at all, once the ball was tipped in the air Mariota was an eligible receiver. It’s amazing he didn’t know that.

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The play that will irk Chiefs fans for a long time came in the second quarter. Mariota was sacked by Derrick Johnson and fumbled before he hit the ground. The Chiefs had a clear recovery. But the officials ruled that Mariota’s forward progress was stopped and the play was dead, even though that seemed to be a ridiculous ruling. Mariota was hardly moving forward when Johnson crushed him. Because the ruling was that forward progress was stopped, the play couldn’t be reviewed. The Titans kept possession and kicked a field goal on the next play, a huge difference in a one-point Chiefs loss.

There were other questionable calls. Chiefs fans weren’t happy that Mariota was ruled as down on a two-point conversion sack in the fourth quarter, because they thought the Chiefs defense had taken a fumble back for two points of their own. But the whistle had blown. Late in the game, the Chiefs appeared to have a miracle fumble return for a touchdown, but it was immediately clear to anyone that Derrick Henry was down before the ball came loose. That fumble return was reversed, and it was hard to understand how the crew could have missed the call on the field that badly. The Titans had a complaint too, having to waste a replay challenge on a third-down spot that was way off early in the game. The Titans won that challenge.

Triplette was criticized heavily on social media during the Titans-Chiefs game. Even the former VP of officiating couldn’t resist piling on.

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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