Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid said the referees made the correct call late on a flag that helped extend KC’s game-ending drive in a 23-20 victory over the New York Jets.
On a third-and-20 with 4:29 remaining, Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner picked up a holding penalty on a pass intended for Chiefs receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. It became even more consequential because of how the play ended, as Michael Carter II intercepted Mahomes’ pass.
They called this holding on Sauce Gardner…
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) October 2, 2023
After the markoff, KC ate up the rest of the clock to secure the victory.
Jets coach Robert Saleh was so upset about the violation a few minutes later that he picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty — while the Chiefs were kneeling in the final seconds — for screaming at the side judge who threw the flag.
A pissed off Robert Saleh at the end of the game….
Rarely hear an official call a penalty on the head coach: pic.twitter.com/v48zlGcNIZ
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 2, 2023
Speaking to reporters on a raised platform outside the Chiefs locker room, Reid said he saw the play like the officials did.
“Listen, I thought it was a hold. I’ve gotta go back and look at the tape on it; he was on the other side of the field,” Reid said. “But they (Jets) are aggressive, and so they’re gonna get a couple of those during the game. Sauce is as good as there is in the league. He might’ve had a little bit of fabric.”
In the Chiefs’ locker room, Valdes-Scantling agreed that the contact was worthy of the markoff.
“They were grabby all night,” Valdes-Scantling said. “We finally got one called for us.”
Saleh confirmed in his postgame news conference that he was upset late in the game over Gardner’s penalty. That was as far as he’d go, though.
“I’m not going to comment on that,” he said, when asked about the call.
When speaking to reporters afterward, Gardner shared that he was upset both about the flag and when it came out.
He explained the play by saying the receiver ran into him before a collision. He contended that it was the same thing that had happened all game without penalty.
Gardner also didn’t like that the flag was thrown after his teammate’s interception.
“Me personally, that’s like when you play basketball in 101, and you go up to lay the ball up, and you wait to see if you miss, and then say, ‘Foul,’” Gardner told reporters. “I can’t believe that. That was just crazy.”
Gardner said the Chiefs hadn’t targeted him much on passes before the final few minutes.
“Then they finally get bailed out by that — fourth quarter, crunch time,” Gardner told reporters. “I don’t even know what to say.”
The Chiefs moved the ball from the Jets’ 40 to the 35 and picked up a new set of downs. According to the win-probability chart at rbsdm.com, KC gained 1.9 expected points with the call, shifting its expected win percentage from 87% to 91%.
Valdes-Scantling admitted the sequence “definitely was a big moment.”
He didn’t back down, however, from the assertion that it was officiated correctly.
“The goal wasn’t to get the holding call. The goal was to catch the ball,” Valdes-Scantling said. “That was prevented because of the penalty.”