Roger Goodell defends penalty call on Chiefs that angered Patrick Mahomes: 'I find it ironic'

IRVING, Texas — Hours after Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes completed his apology tour for his Sunday outburst, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the officiating call that fired up one of the league’s biggest stars.

A Chiefs touchdown in the final two minutes was nullified due to a pre-snap penalty.

Receiver Kadarius Toney, video of the call shows, was offsides in the costly play of a 20-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Mahomes and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid initially took issue with the officials penalizing Toney for a flag about which he received no pre-snap warning. NFL policy doesn’t require officials to warn players about pre-snap violations, though some officials do ascribe to philosophies of “preventative” officiating to let players know.

Goodell supported the decision to call Toney offsides, even during the final two minutes of a game on a play that could have flipped the contest result.

“I think almost everybody, [to] my knowledge, is acknowledging the officials were absolutely correct,” Goodell said Wednesday in his news conference at the league’s winter meetings. “That's their job: to call when there's a foul. There was no question about that foul. It was absolutely the right call. If you don't call that, [then] our officials would have been subject to criticism also.”

In a postgame pool report from Kansas City, referee Carl Cheffers said officials “don’t want to be overly technical” on offensive offsides calls but the down judge saw Toney’s “alignment was over the ball,” which constitutes a foul.

Cheffers acknowledged that had Toney asked whether he was offsides, the official could have confirmed he was.

“Ultimately, if they looked for alignment advice, certainly we are going to give it to them,” Cheffers said. “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.

“We would give them some sort of a warning if it was anywhere close, but this particular one is beyond a warning. … If it’s egregious enough, it would be beyond warning.”

Reid and Mahomes walked back their comments in subsequent days, with Mahomes downplaying criticism toward Toney and apologizing both to Bills quarterback Josh Allen and to children for venting to Allen postgame that the call was “f***ing terrible.”

Goodell said that even as NFL officials are “second guessed,” he’s “incredibly proud” of their performance and believes the improved technology that allows fans to scrutinize officiating with more knowledge also shows “how many times … that they’re right.”

“They are not perfect. No human being is,” Goodell said. “But the reality is they do an extraordinary job. I find it ironic that I'm standing here answering a question about [when] the officials got it right and they’re being criticized.”