The Jawaan Taylor saga continued on Sunday evening. This time it cost the Kansas City Chiefs on the scoreboard.
The Chiefs right tackle is in the spotlight as his illegal alignment and apparent false starts went largely untouched in Week 1 against the Detroit Lions. Since then, he has gotten away with little in the eyes of NFL officials.
In Week 2, Taylor incurred five penalties and was briefly benched by head coach Andy Reid. Taylor was warned twice more in Week 3, prompting Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes to shout that the officials had unfairly targeted Taylor for penalties.
Is Jawaan Taylor “Teased”?
“I felt like he was getting picked on a little bit here today,” Reid said after the 41-0 win over the Bears.
Mahomes described the attention on Taylor as “wild for me.” The complaints echoed those of Chiefs fans that have been circulating on social media since Week 2. The call from Taylor on Sunday against the New York Jets won’t keep them down.
Borderline call on Sunday results in 2 points for Jets
The Chiefs kept the Jets off the scoreboard in the first quarter and built a 17-0 lead. Then a facemask penalty on Taylor early in the second period put the Jets on the field.
After a punt, the Chiefs started a drive deep in their own territory at the four-yard line. On second-and-10, Mahomes fell back into the end zone. Jets linebacker Bryce Huff chased Mahomes off the edge and hit Taylor on the play. Taylor responded by grabbing Huff’s face mask.
Officials punished Taylor for the violation. And because they realized the penalty was called in the end zone, there was a safety. That’s two points for the Jets and a loss of possession for the Chiefs.
Did the referees understand that correctly?
The penalty was a given. Taylor clearly grabbed Huff’s face mask. But establishing security is questionable. Replay video from the sideline shows that Taylor first grabbed Huff’s face mask outside the end zone. The penalty initially occurred closer to the one-yard line. If the penalty didn’t start in the end zone, it shouldn’t have resulted in a safety.
“This is where it starts,” NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay said. “So if that grab occurs on the field before it’s in the end zone, that’s not a safety.”
McAuley said NBC spoke with the NFL replay officials who made the safety call. According to McAuley, “They believe it happened right over the goal line and was a safety.”
The video above shows very clearly that Taylor initially grabbed Huff’s face mask outside the end zone. But safety was needed and the Jets scored their first points of the evening. The loss of possession led to a Jets field goal on their ensuing possession, cutting their deficit to 17-5.
Another controversial call helps Jets TD drive
To make matters worse for the Chiefs, another questionable penalty helped the Jets score a touchdown on their next drive. After an interception by Mahomes, New York took possession of the ball in Kansas City territory. On their first play from scrimmage, running back Breece Hall was tackled after a screen pass for a two-yard gain. But the play gained 17 yards when officials cited Derrick Nnadi for a horse-collar tackle on the play.
Here’s the tackle. Nnadi grabbed Hall by the front of his jersey and dragged him to the grass.
A horse collar penalty is assessed when a defender grabs a player by the collar from behind or from the side.
“No, that’s not a horse collar tackle,” McAuley said. “It needs to be on the side of the collar or in the back of the name tag area. That’s in front. This is not a horse collar device.”
But on the field, it was ruled a horse collar tackle and the penalty put the Jets at the Chiefs’ 29-yard line. Six plays later, quarterback Zach Wilson found CJ Uzomah for a touchdown that cut New York’s deficit to 17-12.