It was a somber scene in the Bengals locker room after they lost to the Chiefs in the AFC championship game on Sunday, and no one was more heartbroken than Joseph Ossai.
On third-and-4 at Cincinnati’s 47-yard line with less than 20 seconds to go in the game, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes scrambled to his right to gain five yards and a first down. After Mahomes jogged out of bounds, Ossai shoved him from behind and was called for unnecessary roughness. The 15-yard penalty set up the winning 45-yard field goal by Harrison Butker, and Ossai subsequently was caught by television cameras crying on the sidelines.
After the brutal loss and costly mistake, a teary-eyed Ossai addressed the play.
“I gotta learn from experience,” Ossai said, relaying the advice he got from teammate Sam Hubbard. “I gotta know not to get close to that quarterback when he’s close to that sideline if it’s anything that could possibly cause a penalty in a dire situation like that. I gotta do better.”
Ossai also explained that the reason he made contact with Mahomes was because he was trying to force the QB backward out of bounds. The clock only stops when a player with the ball runs forward out of bounds. If Ossai were to get Mahomes to go backward, the clock would have kept running.
“I was just in full chase mode,” Ossai said. “I was trying to push him, maybe get him going backwards because I knew he was going for that sideline. I was trying to make him go backwards, get that clock running. I haven’t seen it yet. I didn’t know how far out of bounds we were.”