'No excuses.' Chiefs own up to ugly penalties, take high road after Super Bowl loss

Jarrett Bell
USA TODAY
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TAMPA, Fla. — Frank Clark wasn’t having it for any conspiracy theories after Super Bowl 55

The Chiefs were penalized 11 times for 120 yards. The Bucs drew just 4 flags for 39 yards.

This yardstick in the same lopsided ballpark as Tampa Bay’s 31-9 rout fueled much angst on social media, with the hot takes suggesting that the Chiefs got robbed.

“You can talk about the penalties,” said Clark, the defensive end who notched Kansas City’s only sack of Tom Brady. “I ain’t even going to play that part. It’s a fair win.”

Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) reacts after a call during the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl 55 at Raymond James Stadium.

The most debatable penalty came near the end of the first half, when Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu and Bucs wideout Mike Evans made contact in the end zone and Brady’s pass sailed beyond them incomplete. It looked as though three outcomes were in play:

  • A) Brady was throwing the ball away.
  • B) Evans bumped into Mathieu, committing offensive pass interference.
  • C) Mathieu drew the DPI, putting the ball at the 1-yard line.

The crew headed by referee Carl Cheffers picked Option C, which left Mathieu incredulously infuriated. After the Bucs converted with a 1-yard TD pass (Brady to Antonio Brown) with 6 seconds before halftime, Mathieu exchanged terse words with Brady — then drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as he wagged his finger in Brady’s face, which prompted a group of alternate officials to bolt from the sidelines to try preventing a melee from breaking out.

“It’s football,” Mathieu said. “Guys are going to go back and forth. There were like three possessions there that those guys scored on and they all came after penalties. Any time you do that against any good football team or any good quarterback, they’re going to make you pay for it."

Take away the incident that involved Mathieu and there was no debate. The Chiefs earned their flags. Yep, Bashaud Breeland made contact on the 34-yard DPI in those final first-half seconds that set up the next penalty/touchdown. Indeed, Antonio Hamilton lined up in the neutral zone on a field goal attempt, with the 5-yard penalty resulting in a first down that kept alive a drive that ended with a touchdown. And it appeared that Charvarius Ward committed the holding penalty that wiped out a Mathieu touchdown.

“That's the way the game goes,” Mathieu said.

These were the bad breaks the Chiefs had to live with and could never overcome.

At least they took the high road after their bid to become the first repeat Super Bowl champion in 16 years went up in smoke.

“We’ve got to play by the rule,” tight end Travis Kelce said. “And just be better. No excuses."

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