Would-be Browns TD turns into devastating touchback in loss to Chiefs

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Jason Owens
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The Kansas City Chiefs dominated early on Sunday in their playoff win over the Cleveland Browns.

But the Browns had a chance to put some pressure on just before halftime of their AFC divisional playoff matchup. And they came oh so close before a brutal turnover kept things rolling in favor of the Chiefs.

Devastating fumble for Cleveland

Trailing 16-3 in the final two minutes of the half, Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield found Rashard Higgins deep on a sideline route on first-and-10 from the Kansas City 26. Higgins corralled the pass at the five-yard line and turned toward the pylon where he dove for the score.

Except he didn’t quite reach the goal line.

Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen met Higgins just short of the pylon and dislodged the ball where it bounced into and out of the end zone for a touchback. Instead of six points for the Browns, it was Chiefs football on a turnover.

Officials reviewed the play and upheld the ruling on the field.

Was that a legal hit?

But was it a legal play by Sorensen? He led with his helmet on the tackle attempt and made direct contact with Higgins’ head before dislodging the ball. The play had many calling for a penalty for an illegal hit.

But officials can’t make that call on replay review. They would have had to have thrown the flag in real time. They didn’t. And instead of cutting their deficit to 16-10 with a touchdown, the Browns turned the ball over and watched the Chiefs march for a field goal to take a 19-3 into the halftime locker room.

It added up to a potentially difference-making swing in a 22-17 Kansas City win.

For Browns fans oh-so-familiar with playoff fumbles at the goal line against AFC West opponents, the play was a difficult reminder.

Should this have been a penalty on Kansas City? (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Should this have been a penalty on Kansas City? (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

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