Sauce Gardner rips ref over late holding call that erased key INT
The Kansas City Chiefs benefitted from a huge defensive holding call late in their win over the New York Jets on Sunday night, and Sauce Gardner was particularly unhappy with one aspect of the play.
The Chiefs were leading 23-20 with 4:30 remaining in the fourth quarter and had 3rd-and-20 just past midfield. Patrick Mahomes was under pressure and floated a pass that was intercepted by Jets cornerback Michael Carter II. It looked like New York came away with a massive turnover, but a late flag came in.
Gardner was called for a hold on Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. There was definitely contact between the two players, but NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth noted that the officiating crew had been allowing physical play all game. You can see the sequence below:
"Um. We've seen a lot of contact downfield tonight. We have seen a very physical approach out of the New York Jets. And we've seen a lot more than THAT, that wasn't called."- Cris Collinsworth on the Jets being called for defensive holding on the Chiefs' 3rd-and-20 #SNF pic.twitter.com/K5gerpQmRb
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) October 2, 2023
The Chiefs were awarded an automatic first down. They went on to ice the game several plays later when Mahomes picked up a first down on a scramble and wisely went down inside the 5-yard line.
Following the game, Gardner criticized referee Frank Steratore for throwing the flag so late. Gardner said he did not think he held on the play. If he did, he feels the foul would have occurred well before Steratore threw the flag.
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) October 2, 2023
“He didn’t throw the flag until after MC picked the ball off. That’s not how you do things,” Gardner said. “I ain’t been in the league a long time, but I kinda know that’s not how you do things. I didn’t hold him at the end (of the play). I don’t think I held him to begin with. … If you really feel that way, call it early. Don’t call that (as soon as) MC picked the ball off, unless I held right as he was picking the ball off.”
Officials sometimes have a difficult time getting the flag out of their waistband, which may have been why Steratore was late throwing it. While some replays appeared to show him throw the flag after Carter secured the interception, other angles made it look like Steratore was already reaching for the flag when the ball was in the air.
Kansas City won the game 23-20. Between the holding call on Gardner and a blatant missed hold that allowed the Chiefs to secure another crucial first down (video here), you can understand why the Jets were upset.