Lateral or penalty? Bills catch a break when Chiefs don't challenge a key early play

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen made a big play on his team's first drive, but it perhaps should not have counted. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

Josh Allen had a creative play that helped the Buffalo Bills get a first down on his team's first drive Sunday.

It also was probably an illegal play.

Allen was running on third-and-17 when he realized he wasn't going to get the first down. So he turned to his left and threw the ball to running back Ty Johnson. Johnson got to 1 yard away from the first-down marker, and then on fourth down, the Bills went for it, and Allen had a sneak for the first down.

The problem was that even though Allen's toss to Johnson looked like a lateral in real time, the slow-motion replay showed that it was probably moving forward, albeit slightly. That would have made for a penalty given that Allen was past the line of scrimmage.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid didn't challenge the play. He might have regretted that after the Bills got the first down and drove deep into Chiefs territory. The Bills' drive ultimately stalled, but they did get a field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.

That led to a weird statistical oddity. Johnson got 12 yards on the play, but it didn't count as an official carry, giving him 12 yards on no carries and an infinite average.

(Yahoo Sports)
(Yahoo Sports)

It's arguable that the Bills should've been punting instead of getting a field goal. It was a close call, but the Chiefs apparently didn't think it was worth a challenge. In the end, that decision worked out just fine for them in a 27-24 victory to advance to the AFC title game.