What was an absolutely phenomenal Championship Weekend has a bit of a smudge on it this week, as there were some questionable calls in both games that could have possibly affected the outcome of each. In the NFC Championship, the most blatant DPI you will ever see never got called, a penalty that would have allowed the Saints to run out the clock and kick a game-sealing field goal to send them to the Super Bowl. The refs also missed a less obvious, but still legitimate, facemask on Jared Goff that should have given the Rams a new set of downs. Never mind the fact that the Saints inexplicably threw the ball on 1st down leading up to that non-call, or that they got the ball back in OT with a chance to drive down the field and win, or that the Rams ended up winning anyway despite the missed facemask call. This one was all on the refs, plain and simple.
(Seriously though - how do you miss that? I mean look at how close the ref is standing!)
In the AFC Championship Game, the Patriots definitely benefited from a phantom Roughing the Passer call that gave them a new set of downs. They would go on to score on that drive when Sony Michel punched it in on 4th and 1 from 10 yards out. They also got a reprieve on an interception that went right through Gronk’s hands and into Ward’s because Dee Ford was clearly lined up offsides. If it wasn’t for the refs, the Chiefs are playing the Saints in a few weeks in a Super Bowl that the entire country would have LOVED to see.
Was Ford offsides? 100%. Correct call there. Did Chris Jones hit Tommy B in the face? Not at all. That was a very bad call. The back judge had a lousy angle on the play, and while I get how it could look like a face swat from behind Tommy B, there was nothing there.
Apparently, the Patriots also benefitted from the overturned call on Edelman’s muffed punt that ended up resulting in a Chiefs pick two plays later, and they also benefitted from a Chris Hogan catch that wouldn’t have been a catch last year but since Jesse James caught a pass the exact same way in the end zone against the Patriots and it was ruled incomplete, the league decided to alter the language of that rule. And since Clete Blakeman and the NFL just love the Patriots so much, they did what they had to do to ensure they went to their third straight Super Bowl.
The same Clete Blakeman who didn’t write down any of the measurements and had a spotty memory during the DeflateGate scandal.
The same Clete Blakeman who was on the field during a 2013 Patriots game against the Panthers and who managed to sprint 30+ yards to tell the back judge to pick up the flag because this clearly wasn’t DPI.
And the same NFL that boosts its own causes at the Patriots expense at every turn, has been pushing Patrick Mahomes as the new face of the league, and had absolutely nothing to gain from a Chiefs vs. Rams Super Bowl.
I’ll agree with you all day if you say that there shouldn’t have been a flag thrown on that roughing call - or at least be consistent and call it on New England when something similar happened to Mahomes earlier in the game. You’ll get no argument from me there. But where you will get an argument, and a vocal one, is if you say that that DPI call ended up giving the game away for the Chiefs. I just don’t see a case for it. If that flag doesn’t get thrown and that pass falls incomplete, it would have been 3rd and 7 for the Patriots from their own 28. And given the tremendous success the Chiefs had stopping the Patriots on 3rd down, particularly 3rd and long, there’s no doubt in my mind that the Chiefs would have gotten a stop there, turned around, and then marched right down the field to score.
Come on now. Brady would have hit Edelman for 13 yards or run an out to James White because the Chiefs didn’t do anything to adjust when the Patriots sent men in motion.
I don’t think the officiating crew for either conference did a particularly good job on Sunday. But I also don’t think blaming the refs for a loss, or perpetuating the Patriots as some kind of league darlings, does anybody any good. The refs missed a blatant illegal downfield pick that sprung Damien Williams for 23 yards to give the Chiefs their first lead. He caught it, so it doesn’t matter, but Phillip Dorsett was being mauled in the end zone on his TD reception. And how Dorsett was guilty of OPI later on in the game to negate a big gain when he didn’t deviate from his path and the DB was holding onto him with both hands is beyond me. The JC Jackson DPI call was questionable at best. Football, perhaps more than any other sport, is a game that gets decided by some crazy bounces and a little bit of fate. Sometimes your team benefits. Sometimes it doesn’t. We all seem to have accepted it as part of the game - except during the times when the Patriots are on the right end of a missed flag or a crazy bounce. Then it’s suddenly national news.
You can point the finger all day at the wild inconsistencies exhibited by the officials on Sunday. But if you’re blaming the refs for a loss today, or ever, just know you’re better than that.
Unless you’re New Orleans. Seriously. How do you miss that? At least the league called to admit they were wrong, so I’m sure it’s all fine now.