The Kansas City Chiefs have been abysmal in many fundamental aspects of football this season, but in Monday night's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team that hadn't held a lead until Monday night's first quarter kept it surprisingly close throughout its eventual 16-13 overtime loss. However, bad teams will find novel ways to beat themselves, and the Chiefs are no exception. With 9:53 left in the third quarter, left tackle Branden Albert was called for holding on a play that would have otherwise been a Dwayne Bowe touchdown -- though, it was a ticky-tack call at best.
The most embarrassing moment of the evening for the Chiefs came with 7:32 left in the third quarter, and Kansas City actually tied with Pittsburgh, 10-10. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was out of the game with a shoulder injury, so backup Byron Leftwich was trying to drive the team.
The Steelers had third-and-7 at their own 26-yard line, and Leftwich threw an incomplete pass that was originally called a fumble. Linebaker Justin Houston pounced on the ball and returned it for what he thought was a touchdown, and several Chiefs defenders joined Houston in the end zone for a little group celebration.
Problem is, the NFL does not like group celebrations. Even before referee Carl Cheffers went to review the play, he called the Chiefs for unsportsmanlike conduct, and said that the 15-yard penalty would be enforced on the kickoff if it was a scoring play. Fair enough.
However, when Cheffers came back to the field after going under the hood, he reversed the fumble call ... and kept the penalty on the Chiefs. Yes, the Chiefs were hit with a 15-yard penalty for celebrating a touchdown they didn't score. Instead of fourth-and-7 at their own 26, the Steelers now had a first-and-10 at their own 41.
NFL rules state that any personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct penalties stay in effect even if a play is reversed, and that's completely understandable if the penalty is based on an illegal hit or something else that affects player safety. You go after a guy's knee, you should be penalized no matter what. But this is a weird kink in the rules that the NFL needs to change. If a touchdown is wiped out, the celebration resulting from the touchdown should be reversed as well.
Whether you agree with the league's desire to crack down on post-touchdown celebrations or not, it's a silly implementation of the rule, and the NFL's Competition Committee needs to clean it up at next year's owners meetings.