Throughout his career, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has often done things that even longtime NFL fans have rarely, if ever seen. Saturday night’s playoff game against the Miami Dolphins gave us another one of them, just in a different way.
In the third quarter, Mahomes scrambled for a 13-yard gain. He picked up a first down before being tackled at the Miami three-yard line. The hit, though, was much more high impact than the ones Mahomes (or any quarterbacks) are used to taking. Mahomes lowered his head and crashed right into the helmet of Dolphins safety DeShon Elliott.
The contact between the two was so forceful that part of Mahomes’ helmet flew off.
A piece of Patrick Mahomes' helmet came flying off. 😮 pic.twitter.com/m2bFObIhnq
— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) January 14, 2024
Then things got a little weird.
After an Isiah Pacheco run for no yards on first down and an incomplete pass on second, the game was halted. Mahomes had to change his helmet. Normally when that occurs, one of two things happens. Option 1 is that the player will leave the game for a play — or as long as it takes to get the issue fixed. Option 2 is that his team will take a time-out.
This situation, though, gave us Option 3. Both the game and play clock were stopped and Mahomes remained in the game.
NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay didn’t understand why things went the way they did.
"Equipment change, they stopped the clock, he really should have to go out or they take a time-out."
Terry McAulay is confused as Patrick Mahomes is allowed to replace a cracked helmet without a time-out or having to leave the game. pic.twitter.com/wrEZEngPYz
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) January 14, 2024
He was not the only one to comment on the matter.
It’s not hard at all, there is absolutely no consistency as to how the rules are applied. It’s the biggest problem with the officiating and year after year the NFL does exactly ZERO to improve it https://t.co/CnwKrcqXCb
— MeRk (@Merk256) January 14, 2024
and was he given a concussion test?? https://t.co/oSpQpjibVM
— Chris Brockman🎙️ (@chrisbrockman) January 14, 2024
no like this is so crazy how did they just let this slide 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭 https://t.co/fWD2d81i6i
— mya in mourning (@DUNENATION) January 14, 2024
Also known as “a normal tackle on Justin Fields” https://t.co/NrIUyptBkz
— Kris Freeman (@KrisFreemanPA) January 14, 2024
I feel like it should have been a he had to sit out one play scenario https://t.co/zcW3WUXcjh
— Ri ⚜️ (@rileybeirss_) January 14, 2024
The questionable ruling didn’t help the Chiefs in any significant way. They didn’t have to take a time-out and Mahomes did stay in the game, but nothing happened out of it. His third-down pass was incomplete and on fourth down, Kansas City kicked a field goal. Given where they were on the field, that’s more likely than not what would have happened to the Chiefs in any scenario.
In reality, a fairly inconsequential ruling in a lopsided playoff gives the NFL an opportunity to explain the ruling. Maybe there was a factor that McAulay wasn’t considering. Or, maybe it was just a botched ruling. This is a golden opportunity to be forthright about it.
[Photo Credit: Peacock]