KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Referee Carl Cheffers said he followed the passer-roughness rule when he penalized Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones late in the first half of the 30-29 win of Kansas City on the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday night.
The Chiefs had just scored to cut their deficit to 17-7 when Jones stripped Raiders quarterback Derek Carr from behind just before halftime. Jones landed on Carr while coming with the ball – replays showed he was clearly loose and Jones recovered cleanly – but Cheffers threw a flag for roughing up the passer.
Cheffers, in a post-game pool report, explained that he saw Jones land on Carr with his full body weight while the quarterback was in the pocket.
Cheffers said Carr “gets full protection from all aspects of what we give the quarterback in a passing stance. So when he was tackled, my decision was that the defender landed on him with everything the weight of the body. The quarterback is protected from being tackled with the whole body.
Cheffers said the fact that Jones took the ball away from Carr was irrelevant.
“[Carr] gets pass protection until he can defend himself,” Cheffers said. “Just as if he had kicked the ball, he still has protection. … This extends until he no longer controls the ball.”
The Chiefs were furious at the penalty, which happened with less than two minutes left in the half and was not seen again.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid stormed the sideline to argue. And after the teams traded field goals in the final minutes, leaving the Raiders ahead 20-10, Reid again cornered Cheffers as the teams headed for the locker room.
“I got it on my chest,” Reid said. “I said what I had to say.”
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes said he saw Reid angrier — but not about the call from an official.
Jones said he braced himself with the arm off the ball so he didn’t land on Carr with his full body weight.
“How should I approach people?” he said. “How should I not run over him? I’m trying my best. I’m 325 pounds, okay? What do you want me to do? I’m going full speed ahead trying to get the quarterback.”
Jones referenced a rough passer penalty on Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett the day before, for a seemingly innocuous tackle on Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady. The penalty gave the Buccaneers a first down and allowed them to run out of time in a 21-15 win, rather than giving the Falcons a chance to drive for the win.
“They put so much emphasis on the harshness of passer penalties that we need to be able to look at it in the booth,” Jones said. “That’s the next step. … Sometimes looks can be deceiving. Now it’s getting absurd. Now it’s costing teams games.
“I actually stripped the ball and gravity kind of brought me to the ground. It’s a hard call from the setter in a critical situation in the game. It’s the third down, and we’ve lost 10 points…. Many of those rough passing calls would be called back [after video review].”
Mahomes said Jones’ penalty “wasn’t the greatest call in the world”, but added he understood the referee’s dilemma.
“You want to protect players and everything else in all aspects of the game, but at the same time there’s a common sense factor where guys are trying to play football and trying to win football games,” said Mahomes. blatant and they’re doing something dirty to try and hurt someone’s feelings, you want to make sure it’s called out; but at the same time you don’t want it to affect the football game and change the outcome.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.