Patrick Mahomes was seeing red on Sunday night. And it wasn't the sea of fans at Arrowhead Stadium.
Mahomes was upset because wide receiver Kadarius Toney was flagged for offsides on Kansas City's last drive of the game with 1:25 on the clock. The penalty wiped out a play in star tight end Travis Kelce caught a pass and then flipped the ball to Toney, who ran in for a touchdown. The score and extra point would have put the Chiefs up 24-20, essentially winning the game.
"It’s obviously tough to swallow. Not only for me, but just for football in general, to take away greatness like that, for a guy like Travis to make a play like that. Who knows if we win? But I know as fans, you want to see the guys on the field decide the game," Mahomes told reporters after the game.
— NFL (@NFL) December 11, 2023
The sequence marked the second week in a row in which the Chiefs found themselves at the center of a late-brewing officiating controversy. In the final minute of last week's 27-19 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling was unable to haul in a long pass when cornerback Carrington Valentine appeared to make contact over the back before the ball arrived, yet no flag was no thrown. Kelce was touched in the back by a Packers defender as Mahomes threw a Hail Mary, but no penalty was called.
Patrick Mahomes airs out frustration with Kadarius Toney's offsides penalty
Mahomes said he found it upsetting for referees to shape the outcomes of multiple games.
"They’re human. They make mistakes. It's every week, we’re talking about something," Mahomes said after another close game to Josh Allen and the Bills. "... It's the call. Just in that moment. It's not even for myself or for me. I know how much everybody puts into this game. For it to happen, a flag change the outcome of the game.
"In that moment, I've played seven years and never had offensive offsides called. That's elementary school. We talk about, you point to the ref, do all that different type of stuff and it doesn't get called. If it does, they warn you. There was no warning throughout the entire game. And then you wait until there's a minute left in the game to make a call like that? It's tough, man. Loss for words, it's just tough. Because regardless if we win or lose, just for it to end with another game, we're talking about the refs. It's not what we want for the NFL and for football."
Chiefs coach Andy Reid also expressed frustration with the penalty, echoing his quarterback's comments that the referees typically issue a warning before calling offsides.
"It's a bit embarrassing for the National Football League for that to take place," he said, according to ESPN's Adam Teicher.
Referee counters Chiefs' claims about Kadarius Toney's offsides penalty
Referee Carl Cheffers pushed back against Reid's conclusion of a warning being obligatory in this scenario, which he agreed was an "egregious" case of offsides.
"Yes, ultimately, if they looked for alignment advice, certainly we are going to give it to them," Cheffers told pool reporter Matt Derrick. "But ultimately, they are responsible for wherever they line up. 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."
The Chiefs are now positioned as the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoff picture. They are one game ahead of the Denver Broncos in the AFC West after Russell Wilson beat another division foe, the Los Angeles Chargers, 24-7. While he has made three Super Bowl appearances, Mahomes has never played a postseason game on the road.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Patrick Mahomes rips NFL refs for Kadarius Toney offsides penalty