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Referee explains decision on N'Keal Harry's non-TD call

The New England Patriots' 21-game home win-streak was broken in Sunday's 23-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Foxborough fans are still smarting over two missed calls that could have turned the tide in the Pats' favor.

The first came on a blown whistle following a fumble by Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce that was ruled down by contact. The quick whistle negated what could have been a touchdown return by Patriots corner Stephon Gilmore.

"You can only do your job and play the play out," Gilmore said after the loss, via ESPN. "If they blow the whistle, you got to live with it. That's the decision they have to make."

The ruling also forced Bill Belichick to use a challenge to reverse the call of no fumble. It was the Patriots' second and final challenge of the day, which would become significant later in the post-fumble drive.

Six plays after getting the fumble overturned, Brady tossed a short pass to rookie N'Keal Harry in the left flat. The receiver turned the corner near the boundary and headed upfield for what looked like a 15-yard diving TD that would have pulled the Pats to within three points.

Referees conferred, however, and ruled Harry out of bounds at the 3-yard-line.

Replays clearly showed Harry stayed in bounds, but with no challenges left in his quiver, Belichick was left helpless by the call. And the Foxborough fans went berserk.

"We all knew it was a touchdown. Everyone clearly saw it was a touchdown, but it was out of our control," Harry said.

Following the game, referee Jerome Boger explained the Harry decision to pool reporter Mike Reiss.

"The covering official on the wing was blocked out by defenders," Boger said. "The downfield official, who was on the goal line and looking back toward the field of play, had that he stepped out at the 3-yard line. So, they got together and conferred on that. The final ruling was that he was out of bounds at the 3-yard line."

Boger brushed off a question about whether the officials ever considered ruling it a touchdown knowing it could be reviewed.

"Not really. Those two officials who were covering it, they look at it in real time," Boger said. "This case was unique in that the guy who would have ruled touchdown had him short. So maybe if that ruling official on the goal line had a touchdown, we could have gotten into that, but he thought that that guy stepped out of bounds. The goal line wasn't in the play."

"It sucks, because at the end of the day, we felt like those were plays that were going to change the momentum of the game and eventually put us in a spot to win the football game," said safety Duron Harmon. "It was taken away from us. I know the referees have a rough job. I'm not going to say that their job is easy. You know, just make a better call and do this better. At the end of the day, we all have a job and we all get paid money to do the job and do it well."

The Pats had three plays to make the referee decision moot, but a James White run for minus-2 yards, a drop by Jakobi Meyers in the end zone and a Tom Brady sack on third down forced a short field goal.

The Pats settling for three instead of getting seven completely changed the end of the matchup, with New England getting down to the K.C. 5-yard-line on the final drive before coming up short on fourth down to end the game.

"Obviously we have to do some things better than we did them tonight. It wasn't quite good enough. There were a lot of other circumstances in the game. There's no point talking about those," Belichick said.

The Patriots' lackluster offense for three quarters ultimately sunk them. New England allowed the Chiefs to jump out to a big lead with a 23-0 run, including a 17-0 second quarter before clawing their way back in.

Credit Belichick's defense and special teams for keeping the game close enough, and the offense for finally figuring out some workable things near the end. The future Hall of Fame coach chose to look at the positives following his team's back-to-back losses.

"I'm really proud of the way our team competed. Those guys went and battled for 60 minutes," Belichick said. "It wasn't always perfect, there were certainly things we could have done better, but we were competitive right down to the final play and that'll serve us well going forward."

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