February 23, 2024


A new video surfaced on social media Monday adding a new wrinkle to the debate over whether Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney checked in with an official before he was called offsides on a crucial moment of Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills.

X user Michael Howard posted the video to his account showing Toney lining up before Patrick Mahomes threw the ball to Travis Kelce, who then lateralled it to the wide receiver for a touchdown. Toney walks up toward the line of scrimmage and points toward a linesman for a split second before the ball is snapped.

The down judge didn’t appear to communicate anything to Toney as the receiver appeared to be lined up above the ball before it was snapped to Mahomes. The touchdown was taken off the board. The Chiefs turned the ball over on downs and lost the game, 20-17.

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Kadarius Toney points

Kadarius Toney of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts after a touchdown on a play that was called back due to a penalty during the second half against the Buffalo Bills, December 10, 2023, in Kansas City, Missouri. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The penalty sparked an etiquette debate over whether officials should give a warning to coaches and players when they are lined up in the wrong spot.

Former Chiefs All-Pro center Mitchell Schwartz made clear what Toney did wasn’t checking in.

“Pointing to the ref and not waiting for a response isn’t ‘checking with the ref.’ As I’ve said all along, if he did check, it was this: He pointed to the ref quickly and never got confirmation,” Schwartz wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Compare it to [Rashee] Rice at the top who gets confirmation from the ref, then turns back.”

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Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said earlier in the day that Toney never checked in with an official.

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“Normally, he looks over to the sideline and just gets an OK, and on that one, he just happened not to, so that would be the coaching point,” Reid said. “Make sure you check with the guy on the side just to see if you’re aligned. He’s not lining up offsides on purpose.”

Kadarius Toney runs

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney runs to the end zone after catching a lateral from teammate Travis Kelce during the second half against the Buffalo Bills, Dec. 10, 2023, in Kansas City, Missouri. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

“Listen, he was two inches away from or an inch away from being legal, so you can always, like I said, you can argue both sides for both teams. There were things that happened where people – it happens like that. I guess the league is trying to clean that up from what I heard by one of the broadcasters last night, but whatever.”

Referee Carl Cheffers defended the call after the game Sunday.

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“It’s one of those things we don’t want to be overly technical on, but when in his alignment he’s lined up over the ball, that’s something that we are going to call as offensive offside,” he told pool reporter Matt Derrick. “So, that’s what the down judge saw. He saw that the alignment was over the ball and that’s what he ruled on the field. That’s what he called.”

Kadarius Toney runs

Kadarius Toney of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball for a touchdown on a play that was called back due to a penalty during the second half against the Buffalo Bills, December 10, 2023, in Kansas City, Missouri. (David Eulitt/Getty Images)

Cheffers differed on Reid’s initial suggestion that he usually gets a warning about alignment before a penalty flag is thrown.

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“Yes, ultimately, if they looked for alignment advice, certainly we are going to give it to them,” Cheffers said. “But ultimately, they are responsible for wherever they line up. And, certainly, no warning is required, especially if they are lined up so far offsides where they’re actually blocking our view of the ball. So, we would give them some sort of a warning if it was anywhere close, but this particular one is beyond a warning.”

He added that he was not sure whether there were warnings given during the game.

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