KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- We’ll never know whether the Kansas City Chiefs would have eventually rallied for a victory over the Tennessee Titans Sunday without the questionable unnecessary roughness penalty involving quarterback Alex Smith.
This much is for sure: The penalty against Tennessee linebacker Moise Fokou for hitting Smith as he was going out of bounds helped the cause. Without the penalty, the Chiefs faced a fourth down near midfield in the fourth quarter. With it, they continued on to score the go-ahead touchdown.
The penalty was one of those that will almost always be called when the quarterback is involved, even though at that point the QB, according to the rules, should be treated no differently than someone who plays a different position.
It usually won’t be called when it involves a player at another position. To illustrate the point, there was a similar play moments earlier in Sunday's game when Dexter McCluster was hit along the sideline while returning a punt. Officials initially called a penalty against Tennessee but after a conference changed their minds, no doubt they didn't call it because McCluster was returning a punt and not playing quarterback.
The Titans should have known that. Hands off the quarterback at all times, even when according to the rules he’s no longer a passer. If it’s close, it’s a penalty.
“It’s a bang-bang call by the officials," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "As long as the quarterback is working his way out of bounds ... you can split the hairs here. If his foot is in the air going out of bounds, I would probably tell you he’s out of bounds.
“It’s one of those you throw a call on and go with it."