Officials missed what could have been a taunting penalty on Tyreek Hill during his go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter of the Chiefs and Bills’ AFC divisional-round game on Sunday.
During Hill’s 64-yard touchdown reception — which put Kansas City up 33-29 with 1:04 remaining in regulation — he flashed his signature peace sign at Bills linebacker Matt Milano, who was not nearly fast enough to keep the speedy receiver out of the end zone.
MORE: Bills vs. Chiefs by the numbers: Breaking down the wildest stats from thrilling divisional playoff game
While the play was certainly exciting, officials could have penalized Hill. Based on the NFL’s enforcement of the controversial rule, taunting is defined as “the use of baiting or taunting acts or words that engender ill will between teams.” Had they enforced the rule, it would have been a 15-yard penalty from the spot of the foul, at roughly the 16-yard line. That would have given the Chiefs first-and-10 from the Bills’ 31, still trailing 29-26.
Curiously, the Chiefs may have benefitted from such a ruling, as that may have cut into the time for Josh Allen to engineer a last-minute go-ahead touchdown drive if Kansas City was able to take the lead after a penalty. Allen (27 of 39 passing, 329 yards, four touchdowns) found Gabriel Davis for the pair’s fourth touchdown connection of the game with just 13 seconds remaining in regulation.
MORE: How Bills’ 13-second collapse was only tip of defensive problems in playoff loss to Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes completed passes of 19 and 25 yards to Hill and tight end Travis Kelce to get to the Bills’ 31-yard line. Harrison Butker sank the 49-yard field goal from there, sending the game to overtime with the game tied at 36.
Kansas City won the overtime toss, marching methodically downfield and finishing the game with an 8-yard touchdown connection between Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce. It was the fifth score following the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter.
MORE: How Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce executed the perfect audible to save the Chiefs’ season
Ironically, Hill himself was taunted with the peace sign during the Chiefs’ 31-9 loss to the Buccaneers in Super Bowl 55 — a play many opponents of the rule pointed to when the NFL mandated it be more strictly enforced: Then-rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. got in Hill’s face and flashed the peace sign, drawing a 15-yard penalty and incurring a $7,815 fine.
The NFL’s taunting rule has largely been panned this season. One of its biggest criticisms has been the lack of consistency of what merits a call, and when. Officials in Sunday’s game demonstrated, once again, one of the biggest faults with the rule.