It seemed insignificant at the time - seemingly a bad call that went against the Houston Oilers early in the game as sometimes happens in every NFL game.
But it might have made the difference in setting an NFL record for Oilers quarterback Warren Moon.Throwing several perfect passes to pick apart the Kansas City backfield, Moon piled up 527 yards, falling just 27 yards short of the all-time NFL record set by Norm Van Brocklin as the Oilers beat the Chiefs, 27-10, Sunday.
It was a pass that was called back that may have made the difference. Moon apparently completed a long pass to Haywood Jeffires, who appeared to catch the ball and get both feet in bounds as he was wrestled down. But the replay official ruled Jeffires had not caught the ball and the play was called back.
"I thought they took a couple of catches away from us," Jeffires said. "Warren's not going to throw every ball perfectly, but he was perfect today.
"In the run-and-shoot, sometimes you catch the cornerbacks on their day. Today it was our day. Warren has kind of brought me into my own. Because of this, I can go home tonight and brag a little for awhile."
Jeffires was Moon's favorite target, catching nine passes for 245yards and an 87-yard touchdown.
Moon still could have broken the record late in the game by passing, but the Oilers chose to run out the clock by keeping the ball on the ground.
"Records are not important," Moon said. "I was close, but I was not going to throw for just records. The key is winning. I've been more accurate before. I missed some balls that I probably could have hit, but I made some good throws, too.
"I am very proud of myself," added Moon, who initially played in the Canadian Football League after being ignored by the NFL. "To hear what people were saying about me as a quarterback coming out of high school and college, I really feel good about where I've gotten."
The Oiler receivers seemed well-defended at times, but Moon was able to get the ball exactly where it had to be for the catch as the Oilers denied Kansas City's bid to lock up at least a wild-card berth. He had 11 completions of 20 yards or more in falling just short of the record Van Brocklin set in 1951.
"I'm tired of playing these great quarterbacks," Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas said. "What a great quarterback. You can't question his greatness today. He hit the right man, the man who was open. They had everything go right for them today, and just as many things did not go right for us."
Moon, who said the Chiefs began tipping their defenses after failing to keep up with the Oilers wideouts, most often seemed to victimize cornerback Stan Petry.
"So far, of the quarterbacks I've played against, Moon is the best," Petry said. "He was on all cylinders. There was no denying him today. I put myself in some losing situations at times and back."
Jeffires put the Oilers up 17-7 in the third quarter when he hauled in Moon's pass at the Kansas City 37, twisted around Petry and went untouched into the end zone.
Nick Lowery kicked a 37-yard field goal for the Chiefs, but Moon hit Drew Hill on a 57-yard pass play to set up a 16-yard field goal by Teddy Garcia.
Moon then drove the Oilers again, putting the game out of reach with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Tony Jones midway through the fourth quarter. Jones also had a 24-yard touchdown pass on Houston's first possession of the game.
Kansas City's only bright spot came in the closing moments of the first half when Steve DeBerg drove the Chiefs to a touchdown, connecting with J.J. Birden for the score.
DeBerg left the game in the third quarter with a broken finger, but returned with about eight minutes left in the fourth period to throw his first interception in 235 attempts. It was second-longest streak ever, trailing Bart Star's streak of 294 passes without an interception.