The Green Bay Packers moved to 6-6 on the season and into the final Wild Card spot in the NFC on Sunday night with a thrilling 27-19 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau.
It featured an impressive performance by Jordan Love, a strong outing from the defense which produced some big plays, and also one of the wildest final drives of the season (that didn’t end in points). Trailing by eight with just over a minute to play, the Chiefs needed to get in the end zone and then get a two-point conversion to force overtime, but with Patrick Mahomes under center, that always feels like a distinct possibility.
What ensued was an absolutely insane drive with some truly awful officiating that went against both sides, a punch thrown way behind a play that saw a key player get ejected, and a Hail Mary fall harmlessly to the turf.
We’ll start with the first dreadful call which moved the Chiefs out to midfield as Patrick Mahomes scrambled for a first down and got absolutely popped going to the sideline. That got flagged for a 15-yard penalty, but as NBC’s rules analyst Terry McAulay pointed out in the booth, it shouldn’t have been as Mahomes was still inbounds and fighting for extra yardage when he got hit, which means it’s legal to hit him as hard as you please.
This was ruled a penalty for unnecessary roughnesspic.twitter.com/d55jWnzeEk
— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) December 4, 2023
Following that, Rashee Rice caught a screen and seemingly fumbled as he got brought down, which the Packers returned for a touchdown, but he was down before the ball came loose, bringing it back to the Packers 35. From that point, a 15-yard penalty was assessed to Isaiah Pacheco, who was the star of the Chiefs offense on the night but found himself ejected after he threw a punch in frustration after being blocked to the ground on the return — with the only camera on that part of the play being the pylon cam at the first down marker.
Pylon Cam violence pic.twitter.com/2uo89AVidd
— CJ Fogler account may or may not be notable (@cjzero) December 4, 2023
That penalty moved the Chiefs back to the 50, and it looked as if they’d set themselves up with a first-and-goal after Marquez Valdes-Scantling got tackled trying to get to a deep ball from Mahomes, only for there to somehow be no flag thrown on the play.
McAulay (along with everyone else watching) couldn’t believe there was no pass interference and the Chiefs were left without a great scoring opportunity. From there, the Chiefs were the beneficiary of the next bizarre call, as MVS caught a ball near the sideline but pretty clearly was being pulled backwards before he got out of bounds, meaning the clock should’ve kept rolling without Kansas City having a timeout. Instead, the referee ruled that he had gotten out before forward progress stopped, giving KC another chance.
First down for the Chiefs with 19 seconds left
— NFL (@NFL) December 4, 2023
After a quick throwaway from Mahomes, he finally launched a Hail Mary as time expired that got batted down, but not without some more pass interference controversy as there was a shove to Travis Kelce in the back that went uncalled.
— NFL (@NFL) December 4, 2023
McAulay again thought that was a miss, but as Cris Collinsworth noted, they usually need something flagrant to be called on a Hail Mary. It was not a banner drive for the officiating crew assigned to Sunday Night Football, but it did make for an entertaining (or frustrating, depending on your viewpoint) final drive.
In any case, it was a big win for the Packers who move into a Wild Card spot for now with five games left in the season, while the Chiefs slip to 8-4, two games up on Denver in the AFC West.