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Referee explains contended rulings in Titans-Chiefs

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The what-if game is a dangerous (and unnecessary) one, but in the aftermath of a close playoff finish, it's often inevitable.

Kansas City fans were left with only that to play for the next six months after Saturday's loss to the Tennessee Titans. Theirs will surely revolve around two plays that, had they gone the other way, might have significantly altered the outcome of the game.

The first was a sack of Marcus Mariota on a play in which Derrick Johnson blitzed and crushed the quarterback. During the hit, which lifted Mariota off the ground, it appeared upon review that the quarterback fumbled before hitting the ground. Mariota was ruled down by forward progress, which had been stopped (though he wasn't moving forward prior to the contact), on a quick whistle.

On the other play, Mariota was sacked during a two-point conversion attempt with Tennessee leading 22-21 late in the fourth quarter. As he was taken down, the ball came loose and was recovered by Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen, who returned it to the opposing end zone in vain, which would have counted for two points if Mariota hadn't already been ruled down, again, by forward progress.

Referee Jeff Triplette explained the rulings after the game.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid wasn't pleased with the rulings, but showed restraint when asked about them.

"Listen, I don't really have anything good to say there so I'm just kind of going to stay away from any comments on those guys," Reid said in reference to the game's officials. "Don't want to get fined or whatever. It's not worth it."

Not worth it after the fact, but Reid will definitely revisit the outcome when he reviews film, and maybe also in his dreams.

In an interesting additional development, NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala reported Sunday morning that the wild-card game Saturday might have been Triplette's last in the NFL.

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