The Cleveland Browns were looking to close the gap between them and the Kansas City Chiefs before halftime, only for a heartbreaking play to happen. While Rashard Higgins fumbled the ball through the end zone for a touchback, the Chiefs seemingly got away with a helmet-to-helmet penalty by Daniel Sorensen.
Dirty Dan loves making plays in the playoffs 😏
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) January 17, 2021
With nearly two minutes remaining in the first half, the Browns faced a 16-3 deficit to the reigning Super Bowl champions. Despite having their backs against the wall, Baker Mayfield led Cleveland down the field and was nearly perfect before hitting Higgins on a pass along the sideline.
However, while Higgins attempted to extend the ball past the goal line, Sorensen lowered his head and pried the ball loose from Higgins' grasp. The football would roll out of the end zone, giving the Chiefs possession of the ball at the own 25-yard line due to a questionable touchback rule by the NFL.
Even though Higgins fumbled the ball, the league should alter the rule of giving the ball to the opposing team if it goes out of bounds in the end zone. Multiple analysts, including ESPN's Mina Kimes, chimed in on the absurdity of the touchback rule.
there are two kinds of people: those who hate the fumble touchback rule and people who are wrong
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) January 17, 2021
Even though it is technically a touchback, the officials missed a clear helmet-to-helmet hit by Sorensen, which should have resulted in a penalty by Kansas City. Besides needing to discuss the future of the touchback rule, the NFL should consider making helmet-to-helmet hits a reviewable play.
There's no doubt the touchback play by the Browns was a backbreaker as it resulted in the Chiefs extending their lead to 19-3 at halftime. The momentum that Cleveland lost on that play is going to be hard to get back on the road against a team as dominant as Kansas City.