The officials missed a critical call in the Kansas City Chiefs' 23-16 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday, but referee Jerome Boger was not about to call out his colleagues after the game.
Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry clearly scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but he was ruled out of bounds at the 3-yard line. New England did not have any challenges remaining and was eventually forced to settle for a field goal.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com passed along Boger's explanation that was given to ESPN's Mike Reiss. Boger said one of the officials was blocked on the play, while the other was looking back and did not see he was still in bounds.
Boger also explained there is no inclination on the officials' part to err toward the side of a touchdown there even though a scoring play would trigger an automatic review:
The missed call proved crucial by the end of the game because the Patriots were forced to go for 4th-and-3 from the Chiefs' 5-yard line on their final possession down seven. Had they scored the touchdown earlier on Harry's play, they would have been down three and could have forced overtime with a field goal.
It wasn't the only poor call that hurt New England in its second straight loss.
On the possession before the one involving Harry's play, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce fumbled the ball after a catch. Stephon Gilmore recovered the fumble and had a path for a scoop-and-score, but officials ruled Kelce down.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was forced to challenge the play and won, giving New England the fumble recovery, but the potential touchdown was wiped off the board. It was also Belichick's last challenge, which proved costly when Harry was incorrectly ruled out of bounds.
While few football fans are going to feel sorry for the Patriots given their status as a modern-day dynasty and defending champions, the egregious officiating in Sunday's game may have cost them an important win against a fellow AFC contender.
As a result, New England is still just one game ahead of the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East and trending in the wrong direction with a head-to-head game remaining against the challengers.