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Did controversial missed penalty on Tyreek Hill cost Chargers a win over Chiefs?

Jason Owens
·3-min read

The Kansas City Chiefs needed a second-half rally and a 58-yard field goal to avoid a stunning loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.

They also got some help from the officials via a critical missed call.

The Chiefs trailed the Chargers and rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, 17-9 early in the fourth quarter. The normally potent Kansas City offense had been bottled up for most of the day under regular pressure from an aggressive Chargers defensive front.

Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill make highlight reel

But Patrick Mahomes reminded everyone how dangerous his offense is, finding Tyreek Hill on a second-and-8 play from the Kansas City 46-yard line. Mahomes took a shotgun snap and rolled out right where he found Hill streaking downfield toward the right corner of the end zone.

Hill converted on the kind of play that makes him arguably the game’s most dangerous deep threat, diving past a pair of Chargers defenders for an acrobatic catch before rolling into the end zone.

Critical missed call

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill, right, celebrates his touchdown catch with wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (11) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Removing a helmet in the field of play is a clear violation of NFL rules. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Officials reviewed the play to make sure Hill wasn’t wasn’t down short of the end zone. He wasn’t. Six points. Mahomes connected with Mecole Hardman on a two-point conversion to tie the game at 17-17. The teams would then trade fourth-quarter field goals before the Chiefs prevailed, 23-20 in overtime.

What the officials didn’t catch was an obvious unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Hill. The Chiefs receiver removed his helmet as soon as he stood up from his touchdown catch, which is a textbook penalty that should have pushed the Chiefs back 15 yards to the 17-yard line on the extra-point conversion.

CBS rules analyst Gene Steratore described it as “most definitely a penalty.”

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn agreed, while doing his best to avoid a fine for criticizing the officials.

“The referees are human beings,” Lynn told reporters. “They missed it. I told them that he took his helmet off. They missed that one. Those refs, they did an outstanding job.

“I thought they called a really good game. It was very competitive on both sides, but they missed that one.”

Hill, meanwhile, tried to deny what was patently obvious, arguing that he didn’t take his helmet off when cameras showed without a doubt that he did.

“I promise you I did not take my helmet off,” Hill said per ESPN’s Adam Teicher, arguing that his helmet came off on its own during the process of the catch.

With the penalty, the Chiefs would have most certainly been forced to kick an extra point rather than go for the tying conversion. That point looms large in a game that went to overtime.

Bu the Chiefs caught a break and made the most of it to improve to 2-0 on the season.

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