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What did the NFL referee say about the controversial ‘do-over’ call that the Chiefs received against the Bengals?

The Chiefs may have got the better of the Bengals in the AFC Championship showdown, but the victory that will now see them advance to the Super Bowl was not without a fair share of controversy over a particular call that came late in the game.

What did the NFL referee say about the controversial ‘do-over’ call that the Chiefs received against the Bengals?
Denny MedleyUSA TODAY Sports

It’s clear now, that the rivalry between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs is is one for the ages and like any good rivalry, there are always going to be contentious calls when it comes to deciding who gets the win and who goes home, to think about what could have been.

Bengals vs Chiefs: The Controversial Call

While we can all agree that a little bit of controversy is always welcome when dealing with a high stakes championship game, there was a call that we witnessed during the Bengals vs Chiefs AFC Championship, that definitely left a few scratching their heads. During the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game, there came a moment when officials appeared to give the Chiefs another go on a third-and-9 after they failed to convert.

Handling the game that night was referee, Ron Torbert, and his crew who reportedly deemed the situation a clock issue i.e., one of his fellow officials tried to stop the clock before the ball was snapped, but due to crowd noise in the stadium, his call was not heard. What that means, is that Kansas City’s play didn’t actually qualify as an actual play and so the third-down was restarted. Yet, the problem here is the timing. True though it is that Torbert was simply following the rules, the altered call came very late, which of course led many believing that the Chiefs had a favor done after what would otherwise have been a situation where they would’ve had to punt the ball.

What did the referee say about the call?

To be fair, the play didn’t directly lead to the Bengals’ demise, but the Chiefs were indeed able to secure a first down on the second third-and-9 as a result of a holding call on Eli Apple. Needless to say, it was not a situation that was well received by the Cincinnati faithful. None the less, Torbert explained the decision in detail:

“On the previous play, there was an incomplete pass,” Torbert said post game. “We spotted the ball, but the line judge came in and re-spotted the ball because the spot was off. We reset the play clock and the game clock started running. It should not have started running because there was an incomplete pass on the previous play. The field judge noticed that the game clock was running. He was coming in to shut the play down so that we could get the clock fixed but nobody heard him, and the play was run. After the play was over, he came in and we discussed that he was trying to shut the play down before the ball had been snapped. So, we reset the game clock back to where it was before that snap and replayed third down.”

Was the call the difference between the Bengals & Chiefs?

Interestingly, Torbert was also asked about the protocols used in such a situation, where a play can’t be stopped in time. The veteran referee responded by reiterating his earlier point. “If we were trying to shut down the play and we couldn’t, we would shut it down and go back and replay the down.” Ultimately, we all know what came next. With the score tied at 20 and 30 seconds on the clock, the Chiefs were able to convert a game-winning field goal which advanced them to the Super Bowl. Tough break on one side, but if not for that holding call...