He asked, even if he didn’t want to know the answer.
Dee Ford, the Chiefs outside linebacker who has borne the brunt of the blame for Sunday’s AFC Championship loss, had to know if the play that swung the game was his fault. It was.
With 54 seconds left in a game Kansas City was leading, 28-24, and the Patriots driving, Tom Brady took a third-and-10 snap and threw to Rob Gronkowski, the ball glancing off his fingertips and into the hands of Charvarius Ward. The game was over; the Chiefs could kneel out the clock and head to the Super Bowl.
Except there was a flag on the field. Ford, the fifth-year pro, had lined up offsides.
“They said I was lined up offsides,” Ford says on the sidelines in footage from “Inside the NFL.” He paused for a heartbreaking moment. “Was I?”
The replay was conclusive — he had to take a half-step back. It wasn’t the call itself that Chiefs coach Andy Reid was questioning in the aftermath of the Patriots’ overtime victory, but the moments that preceded the backbreaker.
Given a day to digest another playoff failure, Reid wondered why the officials hadn’t spoken with Ford before throwing the flag.
“Normally, you’re warned and the coach is warned if somebody is doing that before they throw it in a game of that magnitude,” Reid told reporters Monday. “But they did. And he didn’t waste any time in doing it.
“He didn’t wait until the interception to throw it. He had his hand on his flag right from the get-go, and he saw it from his angle, and he thought it was the call.”