Referee explains thought process on missed N'Keal Harry touchdown

Ryan Hannable
December 08, 2019 - 9:54 pm

FOXBOROUGH -- The most talked about play from Sunday's Patriots 23-16 loss to the Chiefs will be N'Keal Harry not receiving a touchdown on a play in the fourth quarter.

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On first-and-10 from the 15-yard line, the rookie receiver was running towards the end zone following an end-around catch, reached for the pylon and hit it, but was ruled to step out of bounds before that at the 3-yard line.

Replays clearly showed that was not the case and it should have been a touchdown. But, since the Patriots were out of challenges and it was not called a touchdown on the field, the play could not get reviewed.

Speaking to pool reporter Mike Reiss of ESPN after the game, referee Jerome Boger explained what happened from the officials' point of view.

“What led to it was the covering official on the wing was blocked out by defenders," he said. "The downfield official who was on the goal line and looking back toward the field of play had that he stepped out at the three-yard line. So, they got together and conferred on that. The final ruling was that he was out of bounds at the three-yard line.”

But, aren't officials taught to err on the side of a touchdown knowing it can instantly be reviewed?

“Not really," Boger said. "Those two officials who were covering it, they look at it in real time. This case was unique in that the guy who would have ruled touchdown had him short. So maybe if that ruling official on the goal line had a touchdown, we could have gotten into that, but he thought that that guy stepped out of bounds. The goal-line wasn’t in the play.”

While ultimately that one play did not decide the game, it still limited the Patriots to just three points on the drive, instead of seven, and it can be understood why there was a sense of frustration.

Related: N'Keal Harry on blown call: 'Everyone clearly saw it was a touchdown'