Joseph Ossai’s costly penalty late against the Chiefs immediately made him a target in the blame game for the Bengals’ loss in the AFC championship.
The defensive end had put together a standout performance, but late in the game, while chasing Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes on a scramble, he pushed the quarterback and was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty that set the Chiefs up in field-goal range. Harrison Butker promptly split the uprights to deliver the 23-20 win against the Bengals.
MORE: Bengals’ Germaine Pratt vents frustration over Joseph Ossai penalty
Mahomes gives it his all for the first down!
📺: #CINvsKC on CBS
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/fM5ertlhHi pic.twitter.com/z78Phcfkyp
— NFL (@NFL) January 30, 2023
While not everyone will handle Ossai’s penalty positively, the EDGE said most of his teammates have had his back.
“It means the world to me. These guys mean a lot to me,” Ossai told reporters after the game. “We come in every single day and we work hard for each other. And to know that they have my back, it’s giving me peace right now for sure.”
An emotional Jossph Ossai. His teammates continue to lift him up. pic.twitter.com/1rTAqvnO1s
— Mike Giardi (@MikeGiardi) January 30, 2023
MORE: Mahomes, Kelce clap back at ‘Burrowhead’ comments after beating Bengals
Ossai was visibly distraught after the game when the Chiefs began to celebrate, with teammates Sam Hubbard and B.J. Hill coming over to him to comfort him as Arrowhead Stadium erupted.
Teammates consoling Ossai at the end and BJ Hill stood right next to him for post game comments #WhoDey pic.twitter.com/noFxhH42Tg
— Mark Slaughter (@MarkVSlaughter) January 30, 2023
Many of Ossai’s teammates, including the team’s head coach and quarterback, had his back after the penalty. Zac Taylor said Ossai “loves ball” and “loves being part of this team” and said the game didn’t come down to that one play, sentiments echoed by Joe Burrow later in the press conference.
“There were a lot of plays other than that that could have turned the tide in that game and won us that game, so that’s not the only one,” Burrow said.
Several members of the defense also came to Ossai’s defense, with Hill saying that he “played his butt off the whole game.”
MORE: Controversial calls, non-calls mar ending to AFC championship game
Rookie cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt defended the play as well, saying that with Ossai’s momentum toward the sideline, it would have been hard for him to avoid bumping into Mahomes.
“It’s not on him. When you’re going that fast you just don’t know. We got a lot of crazy calls at the end.”
Ossai added that the play will serve as a learning experience for him.
Bengals DE Joseph Ossai on players coming up to him after the penalty at the end of the game. pic.twitter.com/FACSgmOJrG
— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) January 30, 2023