Football Zebras
2017 PostseasonWild Card liveblog: Titans at Chiefs

Wild Card liveblog: Titans at Chiefs

2017 AFC Wild Card Playoff

Follow us here for rolling coverage of the calls and rules interpretations of the AFC Wild Card Playoff game from Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

If you have any questions or comments, use the comments section of this post, or tweet us @footballzebras.

Today’s crew is headed by Jeff Triplette.

      Yrs 2017 crew College Occupation
R 42 Jeff Triplette 22   Wake Forest restructuring consultant
U 11 Fred Bryan 9 Allen Northern Iowa superintendent, juvenile correctional facility
DJ 90 Mike Spanier 19 Parry St Cloud State middle school principal
LJ 79 Kent Payne 14 Cheffers Nebraska Wesleyan teacher
FJ 103 Eugene Hall 4 Boger North Texas federal agent
SJ 109 Dyrol Prioleau 11 Blakeman Johnson C Smith manager, law firm
BJ 133 Steve Freeman 17 Triplette Mississippi State custom home builder*

*indicates full-time official

  • Replay official: Earnie Frantz
  • Alternates:
    • Pete Morelli (R)
    • Ron Marinucci (LJ)
    • Todd Prukop (BJ)


Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 201811:45 pm

Jeff Triplette answered questions from a pool reporter after the game. Unfortunately, I don’t think he helps to explain the situation, rather it adds more confusion. The general question is how can forward progress be ruled when a player is not going forward. The very short answers do very little to add understanding, and, although I can’t read inflection from the transcript, it comes across as an annoyance that Triplette has to answer these questions.

Q: Can you just walk us through the first forward progress play?

Triplette: The ruling was forward progress. Therefore it is not reviewable in that situation.

Q: Did you guys see him going forward?

Triplette: The defender hit him and he was driving him back.

Q: Does the quarterback have to go forward first to do that?

Triplette: No.

Q: On the last sack during the two-point conversion, is that just discretion?

Triplette: Forward progress. He turned him around once and turned him around a second time and kept driving him back. You just rule forward progress at that point. Play is over.

Q: And you guys are saying that the whistle came before the fumble?

Triplette: Correct.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20188:07 pm

Unfortunately, this was a bit of a scattershot game from Jeff Triplette’s crew. There were some tight calls early, although there is understandable debate about the forward progress call that wiped out the fumble. It was a quick call, but it is still loose only when the quarterback is being driven backwards, not at the initial contact.

That said, there are some rough spots which you don’t want to see in a regular season game that absolutely shouldn’t be visible in the playoffs.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20188:06 pm

Titans 22-21, final


  • Titans — 8/50 (+1 declined, +1 offset)
  • Chiefs — 8/68 (+1 offset)


  • 2 booth reviews: 1 stands, 1 reversed
  • 1 TEN challenge: reversed
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20188:02 pm
2:00 | 4th qtr. Booth review (score/2:00) — Fumble recovery returned for KC touchdown. Call reversed: down by contact before losing possession.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz January 6, 20187:44 pm

14:08 | 4th qtr. Crazy sequence. Tennessee came out in a crazy formation for a two point conversion. They wanted to snap the ball quickly to catch Kansas City out of order. Problem is, they snapped it too quickly. The offense needs to be set, completely still, for one second before a snap. This didn’t happen here and down judge Kent Payne properly flagged the Titans for an Illegal shift.


Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20187:41 pm
6:10 | 4th qtr. Titans TD — Erick Decker 22 yd. pass from Marcus Mariotta (2-pt try failed, sacked). TEN 22-21 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20187:36 pm

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20187:16 pm
14:08 | 4th qtr. Titans TD — Derrick Henry 35 yd. run (2-pt try failed). KC 21-16 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20187:12 pm

More information on the quarterback eligibility situation is explained by our partner site Quirky Research:

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20187:06 pm
6:31 | 3rd qtr. Titans TD — Marcus Mariotti 6 yd. deflected pass from himself (Harrison Butker kick). KC 21-10 key

Referee Jeff Triplette announced that Mariotta was an eligible pass receiver by virtue of the fact that he was lined up in shotgun formation at the snap. A quarterback who lines up under center is not an eligible receiver.

However, since the ball is tipped, ALL players on the offense become eligible, so this was not relevant to the call.

Mariotta was on the line of scrimmage when he threw the pass, and for a legal pass, any part of the passer’s body needs to be on the line of scrimmage.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20186:58 pm
11:04 | 3rd qtr. — Spot short of the first down. Call reversed:first down. key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20186:55 pm
:08 | 2nd qtr. Chiefs TD — Demarcus Robinson 14 yd. pass from Alex Smith (Harrison Butker kick). KC 21-3 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20186:41 pm

Chiefs 21-3, halftime


  • Titans — 3/23
  • Chiefs 21-3, halftime — 5/42


  • 1 booth review: stands
:53 | 2nd qtr. Official review — Completed catch at the sideline. Call stands. key
Patrick Weber Patrick Weber January 6, 20186:33 pm

1:25| 2nd qtr. Late in the first half Chiefs tight end took a hard hit as he made a catch for a first down. The ball appeared to come free when he hit the ground, but there was no review initiated (under 2:00 so no coach’s challenge). Kelce was a runner prior to the hit, so the blow that Kelce took to his head was a legal hit. The ball came loose just prior to Kelce being down, but he does cradle the ball back to himself before a Titans player rips it away so he is correctly ruled down by contact.


Mark Schultz Mark Schultz January 6, 20186:30 pm

14:03 | 3rd qtr. Marcus Peters and Corey Davis were competing on a pass route. After the pass fell incomplete, they had, shall we say, a “chat” going back to the huddle. Field judge Eugene Hall got between them and jogged them both back up field. Nice preventative officiating.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz January 6, 20186:23 pm

2:00 | 2nd qtr. Marcus Mariota is hit hard in the pocket, driven backwards and fumbles as he’s going to the ground. Referee Jeff Triplette ruled that Mariota’s forward progress had stopped. The play, by rule, is not reviewable. We rarely see this call on a quarterback. While close, by rule it was a correct call.


Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20186:20 pm
2:00 | 2nd qtr. Titans FG — Ryan Succop 49 yd. KC 14-3 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20185:22 pm

There was enough time to call for a fair catch on this play …

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20185:15 pm

2 late hits, one for each side, early in the first quarter. Typically, flags are sparse in postseason play: better teams, better officials, and players are more conservative to avoid fouls. These were just some undisciplined fouls that were clear as day, and uncharacteristic of the first quarter of a playoff game.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20185:12 pm
2:15 | 1st qtr. Chiefs TD — Travis Kelce 13 yd. pass from Alex Smith (Harrison Butker kick). KC 14-0 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20185:10 pm
7:37 | 1st qtr. Chiefs TD — Kareem Hunt 1 yd. run (Harrison Butker kick). KC 7-0 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20184:44 pm

The prior postseason experience of the rest of the crew:

  • Bryan (U), 3 games — 2 wild cards, 1 divisional
  • Spanier (DJ), 11 — 2 wild cards, 4 divisionals, 1 conference championship
  • Payne (LJ), 13 — 1 wild card, 4 divisionals, 6 conference championships, Super Bowls XLV and LI
  • Hall (FJ), 2 — 2 wild cards
  • Prioleau (SJ), 5 — 2 divisionals, 2 conference championships, Super Bowl LI
  • Freeman (BJ), 13 — 6 wild cards, 4 divisionals, 2 conference championships, Super Bowl XLVIII
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20184:32 pm

This is Triplette’s 11th postseason assignment, including 6 Wild Card Playoffs, 4 Divisional Playoffs, and 1 Conference Championship. He is in his 22nd season, 19th as referee.

4 thoughts on “Wild Card liveblog: Titans at Chiefs

  1. Just a shameful sequence of officiating.

    Jeff Triplette proves why he should be sitting at home watching the game with a ridiculous “forward progress was stopped” call” allowing Tennessee to retain possession and kick a field goal.

    Just a few plays later, Kelce gets leveled and clearly fumbles. The fumble is clearly recovered by Tennessee, but the booth fails to review the play.

    Both decisions are just inexcusable.

  2. Horrible game management by Jeff Triplette, just as predicted. You can see how he brings the confusion to all his other crew members.

  3. Inexcusable that the LJ (and DJ on the opposite side) missed the spot in the 3rd qtr when Tennessee picked up a first down and marked the end of the run incorrectly. After it was decided that there was no penalty on the play, the U looked to both sides of the field to see where to spot the ball and both wings had no clue. No one had marked the spot! The ball was marked at the 38 instead of the 41 as it should have been. The LJ had thrown a flag and was giving Triplette the information without ever having gone down the sideline to mark the end of the run. The spot was challenged and eventually placed at the correct spot. Total breakdown on this play.

  4. Am I crazy or was there a sequence late in the 4th quarter when KC was penalized for offensive holding on 1st down but it was not properly enforced? After the play it was somehow 1st and 9. I noticed that the distance markers were offset – the marker on the far side of the field was at the correct line of scrimmage (1st and 20) and the other marker was at the incorrect spot (1st and 9).

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