Lions' Kerryon Johnson on goal-line fumble: 'I take full responsibility for it'

Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News
Chiefs' Bashaud Breeland sees the ball in the mass of bodies, fumbled by Lions' Kerryon Johnson, and grabs it on Sunday.

Detroit — Before a full six minutes could pass in the second half on Sunday, both the Lions and Chiefs each turned the the ball over on a fumble twice.

The fourth and final turnover exchanged between the two teams over that short span was the costliest in Detroit's 34-30 loss at Ford Field.

With the game tied at 13, second-year Lions running back Kerryon Johnson was stuffed at the goal line. While reaching out with the ball in hopes of breaking the plane, he fumbled just before hitting the ground — a gaffe that went largely unnoticed by everyone except for Kansas City's Bashaud Breeland. The veteran defensive back picked up the loose ball and headed the other way for a score without anyone in pursuit, as the rest of Ford Field looked around and uttered, "Wait, what?"

“My perspective is, they called it a fumble,” said Johnson when asked about whether he thought the play should have been blown dead.

The Lions then found themselves down 20-13 when they’d expected to be up by the same score, a 14-point swing against a team who can’t be spotted anything in a winning effort.

“We lost three or seven points, which turned into seven points for them, so obviously it hurt,” Johnson said. “Big play in the game, we had a lot of momentum going for us, (that) kind of killed it. I take full responsibility for it.

“You lose points and give up points in one play, it’s catastrophic.”

NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron told a pool reporter afterward that the play wasn’t blown dead because the officials hadn’t yet seen Johnson hit the ground, and that despite Breeland scooping the ball while on both knees, nobody was ever downed.

“They did not see a body part other than the hand or foot down,” Riveron said. “The ball comes loose and then the ball was picked up by (Breeland). He was not touched after he possessed the football.”

Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.