KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A violent hit from Jacksonville safety Andre Cisco left Chiefs receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster with a concussion in Sunday’s game, and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and his players alike were in disbelief that officials picked up a flag following the play.
“As long as there’s contact to the head, it doesn’t need to be in the game,” Reid said. “It looked like there was contact to the head from where I was standing, but I’m not the one making that call.”
The collision occurred with 6:33 remaining in the second quarter. On third-and-4, Smith-Schuster ran a crossing route from the right side toward the left side line. As the receiver hauled in a pass from Patrick Mahomes, the deep safety Cisco closed on Smith-Schuster and hit him just as he turned up field. The hit jarred the ball loose for an incompletion.
Running back Jerick McKinnon immediately motioned to the Chiefs’ sideline for the team’s medical staff to come on the field to attend to Smith-Schuster.
While on the ground, Smith-Schuster adopted a “fencing response” with one arm extended and the other arm flexed, viewed as a telltale sign of a concussion.
Line judge Tom Eaton threw a flag on the play, but the officials huddle with referee Brad Rogers, who quickly announced that there was no penalty for unnecessary roughness.
In a pool report interview after the game Rogers said that although Smith-Schuster was in a defenseless position, it was the ruling on the field that he didn’t use his helmet. Such a ruling cannot be challenged by either team.
“After discussion on the field, the two officials came in and determined that the defender had set and braced for impact and hit shoulder into shoulder, they didn’t feel it was a use of helmet foul.”
Cisco said after the game said he believed it was a clean hit.
“It’s up to the referees,” Cisco said. “I’m obviously leading with my shoulder. That’s how I hit usually. I’ve seen the replay and it looked like it was close but no call.”
Reid did not concur with either of those assessments.
“(The officials) said that he hit with his shoulder and so that’s why they picked it up,” Reid said. “You hit somebody in the head, you’re hitting the head, but they said it was shoulder-to-shoulder is what they said. He obviously was in a pretty bad position there for hitting shoulder-to-shoulder.”
Mahomes didn’t believe there was any ill-intent from Cisco but added that “you want to get that stuff out of the league as much as possible.”
“He’s just trying to knock the ball loose and do stuff like that but obviously there was some helmet-to-helmet contact, and we want to get that out of the league as much as possible for player safety.”
Safety Justin Reid said he believed the play was “unnecessary.”
“That’s just keeping your eyes open,” Reid said. “Keep your head up, eyes open when you make a tackle. I’ve had a ton of big hits in my career, not once have I ever had a helmet-to-helmet contact with it.”
Mahomes said he spoke to Smith-Schuster after the game and was encouraged by how well Smith-Schuster was feeling.
“He’ll do something to get himself back available for us which is the right thing to do but he seemed like he was his normal self, giggling around and joking around and stuff like that but let’s just take precaution and get him back healthy as fast as possible,” Mahomes added.