It’s befitting that Charles Woodson and Jon Gruden were both on hand for the Chiefs Wild Card playoff game against the Titans Saturday. They both watched as the Chiefs got jobbed by the officials the likes of which has rarely been seen since the Raiders got snow jobbed in New England 16 years ago.
For that snowy game in New England, Jon Gruden was on the sideline as Raiders head coach and Charles Woodson hit Tom Brady to force the fumble that was ruled an incomplete pass due to the obscure Tuck Rule — a rule that has since been removed from the rule book.
This time Gruden was in the booth and Woodson was on the sideline with the ESPN Monday Night Football crew. They watched Derrick Johnson came free up the middle on a stunt to get a shot on Marcus Mariota, who fumbled the ball only to have Jeff Triplette’s officiating crew say his forward progress had been stopped and therefore it was not a fumble.
Take a look at this travesty of a call (with some alternative audio just for kicks).
GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY DERRICK JOHNSON KILLED MARIOTA #Chiefs pic.twitter.com/3H8VlfkrL8— Clay Wendler (@ClayWendler) January 6, 2018
Regardless of your allegiances, there is no way you can see anything other than a sack and forced fumble on this play. Not even if you REALLY want to convince yourself otherwise. How is his forward progress stopped on this play? BY THE HIT THAT KNOCKED THE BALL OUT.
That’s not to say the call was anywhere near as significant in the grand scheme of the game as the Tuck Rule Snow Job was to the Raiders. The Chiefs were up 21-3 at that point and went into the half with that score. Then they choked the game away to lose 22-21 with Marcus Mariota lighting them up in the second half.
In the Tuck Rule Snow Job, the Raiders recovered the fumble and should have been able to kneel the clock out. But instead the Patriots were able to tie it up with a field goal and win the game in overtime.
If the Chiefs had been able to hold their sizable early lead, not many would be still talking about the fumble that wasn’t. Same with the Tuck Rule that gifted the Patriots their first Super Bowl win*. But when you end up losing the game as the Chiefs did, it’s tough not to look back and figure if they had not been screwed by that terrible call, things may have turned out differently.
I also understand most of you have no sympathy for a rival having a bad call go against them. But calls like that should concern everyone, regardless of the teams involved.
An interesting side note is the Tuck Rule game was Gruden’s last as Raiders head coach. Saturday’s game in Kansas City was his last as part of the Monday Night Football crew as he is set to return as head coach of the Raiders. You can’t make this stuff up.