NFL fans and pundits erupted into debate Sunday night after a critical penalty Bengals defensive end Joseph Ossai for a hit on quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the closing moments of the Chiefs’ AFC Championship victory.
With the game tied 20-20, Mahomes, playing with a high ankle sprain, and the Chiefs took the field on third-and-4 from Cincinnati’s 47-yard line looking to get into field goal range when they 17 seconds in regulation. Mahomes scanned the field before scrambling for a first down and picking up a few extra yards as he headed for the sideline. However, almost simultaneously, Ossai grabbed Mahomes and shoved the star QB as he went out of bounds, resulting in an unnecessary roughness penalty and 15 extra yards.
The massive call set the Chiefs up for a manageable field goal attempt, which kicker Harrison Butker booted through the uprights 45 yards for the win.
Moments after Butker’s kick, a visibly emotional Ossai, who appeared to injure his leg on the play, was seen sitting on the bench with his face in his hands as Arrowhead Stadium went into a frenzy.
Given the timing and circumstances of Ossai’s play, the 22-year-old quickly became the subject of much debate on Twitter with viewers questioning whether or not he should have been called penalty There were also more than a few people who voiced their support for Ossai amid perhaps the toughest moment of the second-year pro’s young career.
It goes without saying that the conversation around Ossai and the party’s officiating, in general, will likely die down in the coming days.