The referees brought their penalty flags to Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, and unfortunately for the Chiefs’ starters, they were not afraid to use them.
The first penalty of the game was called on the Chiefs — an offensive holding call on right guard Zach Fulton — and it was a theme that continued throughout the first half, as the Chiefs’ starters racked up seven penalties for 93 yards, compared with only two for 20 yards by Carolina. For the game, Kansas City had 13 penalties for 131 yards, compared with four penalties for 32 yards for Carolina.
“Really, the tale of this thing was 13 penalties,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We had 13, they had (four). ... Offensively we took big plays away from ourselves. That’s not the way you function and be a successful team.”
Here is the Chiefs’ list of transgressions and the ramifications, in order, following the call on Fulton:
Tight end Anthony Fasano was whistled for offensive pass interference when he took out a defender with a pick he tried to disguise as a short route over the middle. It wiped out a 10-yard gain by De’Anthony Thomas.
Cornerback Ron Parker, locked in a battle with Sean Smith and Marcus Cooper for a starting cornerback position, was whistled for defensive pass interference when he locked arms with Jason Avant on a deep route. This was a 32-yard penalty that gave the Panthers first-and-goal at the Chiefs’ 6. Carolina scored two plays later.
Knile Davis gave the Chiefs some life with a 40-yard return that gave them the ball at the 32, but penalties wiped out the play. Receiver Junior Hemingway was whistled for an illegal block above the waist, but it was declined. Linebacker Frank Zombo was whistled for holding, which brought the ball all the way back to the Chiefs’ 7.
Right tackle Donald Stephenson was whistled for a false start. The Chiefs went on to convert on third and 8.
Cornerback Sean Smith was whistled for illegal contact. It was declined because the Panthers gained 25 yards and a first down.
Left tackle Eric Fisher held former Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy, which helped put the Chiefs’ offense in a first-and-20 hole it didn’t get out of.
Cornerback Marcus Cooper drew a flag for pass interference near the left sideline, despite minimal contact. This gave the Panthers a first down, but they failed to score a touchdown.
Meanwhile, the Panthers were whistled for offside and unnecessary roughness in the first half as they took a 14-6 lead into the break.
Things didn’t get much better in the second half for the Chiefs, either.
After a holding penalty by Malcolm Bronson nullified a 43-yard kick return by Frankie Hammond, cornerback Phillip Gaines was whistled for defensive holding near the red zone — though it was actually Jerron McMillian who committed the penalty — which contributed to a Carolina touchdown two plays later.
And then, after a delay-of-game penalty on Dustin Colquitt, a fourth-quarter call practically served as icing on the cake, as a dynamic 51-yard Frankie Hammond catch-and-run — and rare big play on this night — was wiped out by a Rishaw Johnson holding penalty.
This put the Chiefs in a third-and-13 hole, from which they failed to convert and were forced to punt.
“Those things you get back, you work on it, you discipline yourselves, make sure you get it right and when you look at the tape see what kind of team you can be if you function and eliminate those penalties,” Reid said.