Did Leonard Pope Fumble Or Step Out Of Bounds Against The Packers?

The Kansas City Chiefs have won their first game in the post-Todd Haley era, 19-14, simultaneously ending the winning streak of the Green Bay Packers. The Chiefs' defense was great, while the Packers did not play up to their normal standard on both sides of the ball. However, that doesn't mean that the game wasn't without a little bit of controversy.

In the fourth quarter, Leonard Pope got down to the three-yard line on a 33-yard reception, on which he lost control of the ball. The officials ruled that Pope stepped out of bounds before fumbling out of the back of the end zone. Mike McCarthy considered a challenge, but kept the flag in his pocket. Did he make a mistake? It's close, but yes.

First, here is the video of the play at full speed.

It's very tough to tell what happens, but it seems like the ball coming out and the foot coming down were nearly simultaneous. Here's an animated GIF of the exact moment, which is a little more definitive, but still leaves some doubt.

Pope2_medium

It looks like he fumbled, but it's still a little too close to call. Here's a still screenshot of the moment Pope's foot hits the chalk, for good measure.

Pope3_1_medium

That's a little more definitive. Now, did this call or McCarthy's decision not to challenge significantly alter the outcome of the game? No, probably not. The call is so close that the referee would have struggled to find conclusive video evidence.

The final verdict is that Pope fumbled the ball out of the back of the end zone before his foot came down, but it really was too close to call without stopping the frame. And in the end, it's McCarthy's fault for not throwing the challenge flag, not the official's fault for missing a call that close at full speed.

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