NFL fans and pundits erupted in debate Sunday night following a critical penalty on 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, who played with a high ankle sprain, and the Chiefs took the field on third-and-4 from the Cincinnati 47-yard line looking to get into field goal range with 17 seconds left in regulation. Mahomes surveyed the field before scrambling for a first down and picking up a few extra yards as he made his way toward the sidelines. However, almost simultaneously, Ossai caught up to Mahomes and shoved the star QB as he was going out of bounds, resulting in an unnecessary roughness penalty and an extra 15 yards.
The massive call positioned the Chiefs for a manageable field goal attempt, which kicker Harrison Butker booted through the uprights from 45 yards out 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 erupted 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 from viewers who questioned whether or not the penalty should’ve been called. There were also more than a few people voicing their support for Ossai in the midst of perhaps the toughest moment of the second-year pro’s young career.
Needless to say, the conversation surrounding Ossai and the overall officiating in the matchup will likely rage on in the days to come.