A Controversial Play That Gets More Controversial With Time


There was a lot of talk after the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs Divisional Playoff Game, especially in respect to how the Chiefs hung onto to win the 22-17 thriller behind the backup quarterback Chad Henne’s game management, as their star quarterback Patrick Mahomes was concussed halfway through the 3rd quarter. The other conversation was around the not called targeting hit by Chiefs defender Daniel Sorenson on Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins as he tried stretching the ball for the end zone in the closing moments of the 1st half. Higgins fumbled the ball into the end zone and then out of it and it resulted in a touchback that gave the Chiefs the ball back and denied the Browns the chance to close the gap at that point to 16-10.

Most of this controversy swirls around two things: that the targeting penalty was not called and that Higgins lost the ball short of the end zone, resulting in the touchback and is unfair to the offensive team, in this case, the Browns. This week the NFL did not even fine Sorenson for the non-targeting call which just adds to that crazy moment of the game.

Those controversies are one thing, but there’s one more suspicious action on that play that still has me shaking my head. Now, I’m not into conspiracy theories when it comes to professional sporting events like in the NFL, but this specific play and action, with a flick of the wrist, by Higgins has me baffled. Here’s the play in question:

I share this video because there are some, in that ever so interesting social media world, that have shared this theory of Higgins’ actions. I’ve watched the replay dozens of times and it has me questioning Higgins. What was he doing with that flick of his right wrist?  If he were squeezing the ball as he stretched for the end zone, would the force from the illegal hit by Sorenson into Higgins’ left side of his body have made his arms or hands react that way? I don’t think so. So then why was Higgins flicking the ball back to the left? If you watch the replay again, Browns TE David Njoku was in the end zone back to Higgins’ left. Was Higgins trying to throw the ball forward and hope that Njoku would recover it for the touchdown?

The play obviously had a lot of controversies and it was a bang/bang play when you watch it at full speed. I completely believe that when you get hit in the head as Higgins did, it would cause his body to react unpredictably, but I still wonder why did his wrist flick the ball back to the left? How much was it the hit and how much was it Higgins trying to do something? Obviously, it won’t have me up nights, but it certainly is a play with a lot of controversies already that added another layer to it.


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