Does one play or event really decide a game?
It is one of the more interesting and long-standing debates in sports — and there are two schools of thought on this.
The first answer is yes, absolutely.
A single play, moment, or event can determine the outcome of a game. Look no further than to some of the greatest moments in NFL history: The Immaculate Reception, The Catch, The Fumble, The Music City Miracle, The Helmet Catch (David Tyree), The Miracle at the Meadowlands, Buffalo Bills Wide Right, One Yard Short (Super Bowl XXXIV) and The Tuck Rule Game, just to name a few.
The other school of thought is just as powerful.
A game may look like it is decided by one play, but everything else that happened before led up to that moment.
I love the other favorite catchphrase from this camp which says, “If they had taken care of business, it should have never come to that.”
This classic argument was revived after the Kansas City Chiefs’ Week 3 loss in Indianapolis last Sunday. It was a painful comedy of errors, and the ending was the final blow. Only one word kept flowing from my mouth: “Stupid.”
It does not matter how you cut it; the Chiefs had no business losing to the Colts. Some would say they did not deserve to win it. I would entertain that thought, too.
There were so many “what ifs” in that game that it makes your head spin. The muffed punt, the unfielded punt, the missed extra point, the missed field goal, the failed fake field goal, the end-of-the-half controversy, the Travis Kelce touchdown drop, and there were others. Yet, by some miracle, the Chiefs were still in a position to get out of there with a W. All they had to do was stop the Colts, get the ball back and run out the clock.
The game was over.
With 5:06 left to go and third-and-7, Colts quarterback Matt Ryan dropped back and was swarmed by three Chiefs led by linebacker Nick Bolton. It was a loss of six yards, fourth-and-13 on the Colts' own 31-yard line.
The Chiefs had done it. Somehow, someway, they had won the football game. Then, Chiefs fans watching at home saw that dreaded yellow bar come up on their television screens.
Every Chiefs fan’s heart sinks every time we see that. This was no exception. Chris Jones was flagged after the play, after the STOP, for unsportsmanlike conduct. First down Colts, and the rest is in the books.
Does one play or event decide a game?
In my opinion, it did for this one. Despite the comedy of errors on the Chiefs' part, they were still in a position to walk out with a win with five minutes left in that game. Had Jones simply not said whatever he said, the conversation this past week would have been so much more enjoyable as both the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Chargers lost as well.
That single moment changed the outcome of that drive and the game. It could be the difference that costs the Chiefs a first-round bye, or even the division crown. And while it can be said that had they taken care of business before that, they would have never been in that position.
But guess what? In today’s NFL, these kinds of games happen. Those things did transpire, and despite those things, the Chiefs were in a position to win. One event changed that.
Not to add misery to misery, but I will spend the rest of my life believing that had Dee Ford not lined up 6 inches offsides, or had not the side judge called that, the Chiefs could very well have been Super Bowl LIII Champions.
The Chiefs will learn from this. Jones will learn from this. And as they move forward, watch for a concerted effort to clean up all the mistakes that added up to that awful moment. As much as Chiefs fans do not like it, the best lessons are learned the hard way.
The Chiefs will learn from this, and they will get better.