NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has defended the league’s officials after a much-debated offside call cost the Kansas City Chiefs a potential game-winning touchdown against the Buffalo Bills in Week 14.
The Chiefs fell to a fourth defeat in their last six games on Sunday, going down by a 20-17 scoreline after a flag cost Kadarius Toney a go-ahead score with just over a minute to play.
Toney waltzed into the end zone after receiving a lateral from Travis Kelce, but the play was called back for the wide receiver’s foot being in the neutral zone at the snap.
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Quarterback Patrick Mahomes hit out at the decision after the game, while head coach Andy Reid criticised the officials for failing to warn Toney he was in an illegal position.
Quizzed on the call on Wednesday, Goodell refused to apologise for the officials making a correct decision and said they were doing an “extraordinary” job.
“I find it a little ironic when you say the attention is on officiating when I think almost everybody, to my knowledge, is acknowledging that the officials were absolutely correct,” Goodell said.
“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, our officials would’ve been subject to criticism.
“We all understand our officials are second guessed. I’ve said it many times before, they are not perfect. No human being is. But the reality is they do an extraordinary job.
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) December 11, 2023
“As I said, I find it ironic that I’m standing here answering a question about the officials getting it right, and they’re being criticised. I think it shows you how difficult it is to do their job.
“I understand that and understand it comes with the job. The officials understand that, but I’m incredibly proud of not just what they did in that game, but also what they continue to do.”
Asked whether the league needed to reflect on how technology can be used to further aid officials, he added: “I think we have. I think you’ve seen evolutions of that.
“Some of it is because the coaches or the ownership, the league in general, wants to make sure that technology is going to be used properly. We’ve worked really hard to try to institute that.
“As an example, we do the quick reviews now, and I think that’s made a big difference. It’s at a higher level than it’s ever been.
“I think it’s not only about getting the call right quicker, it’s about avoiding challenges. It’s also sped the game up, which is important.”