There were two questionable forward progress calls that made up what I’m seeing termed as the “Forward Progress Game” on Saturday evening.
The first came late in the second quarter on third-and-4 when Derrick Johnson sacked Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. I am someone who is generally not in favor of calling out referees, but this one was bad.
Mariota clearly fumbled the football, and Justin Houston picked it up and would have been off to the races.
But referee Jeff Triplette blew the play down for a stoppage of forward progress. Andy Reid couldn’t challenge because of that ruling.
“The ruling was forward progress,” Triplette said after the game, “therefore it is not reviewable in that situation. The defender hit him and he was driving him back.”
The follow-up question: Does the quarterback have to go forward first to do that?
Later in the game there was another questionable forward progress call on a two-point conversion attempt. Daniel Sorensen got to Mariota and would have returned the ball 58 yards and actually given the Chiefs a one-point lead, similar to what we saw last year in Atlanta with Eric Berry.
Here’s Triplette: “Forward progress. He turned him around once and turned him around a second time and kept driving him back. You just rule forward progress at that point. Play is over.”
The follow-up question: And you guys are saying that the whistle came before the fumble?
I thought this call was better than the first, but still no doubt questionable.
This part may make you even madder. As it turned out, that was Triplette’s final game as a referee.
Referee Jeff Triplette, who worked yesterday's #Titans-#Chiefs Wild Card game, has told folks around him he's retiring from @NFL officiating. And the heartfelt hugs he exchanged w/ his crew after dinner last night? Def looked like good-byes.— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) January 7, 2018
Good for Jeff Triplette. Progressing forward with his life. Congrats Jeff!