Tuesday likely conjured up bad memories for Bills fans who are still recovering from their team’s overtime loss to the Chiefs in January’s divisional round playoff game. On the day where the NFL changed its overtime rule for the postseason to ensure that both teams would have a chance with the ball (a rule change that was undoubtedly inspired by the events of January’s playoff game), NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent acknowledged the officials who worked that game should have penalized then-Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill for taunting during his pivotal touchdown late in regulation, via Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer.
On the play, Hill flashed his patented “peace” sign at Bills defenders at about the 16-yard-line before completing the 64-yard touchdown that gave Kansas City a 33-29 lead. A taunting penalty would not have wiped out the score; it would have either been assessed on the point-after attempt or the ensuing kickoff.
The Bills responded with a touchdown of their own with 13 seconds remaining, only to see Patrick Mahomes move the Chiefs into field goal range in the final seconds of regulation. Kansas City forced overtime on Harrison Butker’s 49-yard field goal; it won the game on Mahomes’ 8-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce after winning the coin toss to start overtime. The Bills, who scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes of regulation, never had a chance to possess the ball in overtime.
While he wasn’t penalized, Hill was fined for for taunting in the days following the game. In a twist of irony, Hill’s inability to score from the 1-yard-line on the final play of the first half played a significant role in the outcome of the AFC Championship Game. Further adding to the irony was the fact that the Chiefs lost to the Bengals in overtime despite winning the coin toss to start the extra session, as Vonn Bell’s interception of Mahomes on the third play of overtime set up Evan McPherson’s game-winning field goal.
Despite the negative backlash from fans, the NFL said that the league’s current standard for taunting penalties should remain in effect for the 2022 season. A whopping 61 taunting penalty were called during the 2021 season, with Hill’s taunt being one of the four taunts the league said it failed to penalize.