This past weekend, during both the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National football Conference (NFC) championship games, some very questionable calls were made by officials, ultimately having an effecting their outcomes. The NFL has already released a statement about two blown penalties against the New Orleans Saints which is widely believed to have been the game-changer for the NFC competitor for the Super Bowl in the coming weeks. However, that was not the only questionable call to change the outcome of those games.
In the New Orleans and Los Angeles game, the Saints had jumped ahead early, but failed to maintain their production throughout the game. This led them to be down by three points near the end of the fourth quarter of the game, where they had the chance to put the game away and send themselves to Super Bowl LIII. The Saints were marching down the field, when quarterback Drew Brees aired the ball out to Tommy Lee Lewis, when Lewis was trucked by Nickell-Robey Coleman. The problem? Coleman did not play the ball at all, and took Lewis out early, before he had a chance to play the ball. A clear defensive pass interference penalty on the play, but once the play ended and the players arose from the tackle, the call never came. After the blatant missed call that is not currently reviewable per NFL rules, the Saints were unable to obtain a 1st down, and had to settle for a long field goal to tie the game up. Had the call been made, the Saints would have had 1st and goal at around the 5 yard line, posing the concern that the NFL officials blowing the call ultimately stunted their chances of appearing in the Super Bowl. The NFL later released a statement admitting that the play should have been flagged.
In the AFC championship between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots, the Chiefs posted all 31 of their points in the second half to tie the game up late in the fourth quarter. This would not have been the case though, as halfway through the fourth quarter the Chiefs’ Chris Jones was flagged for roughing the passer on a play that would ultimately have led to a Patriots punt on fourth down. Jones barely got a hand around the linebacker blocking him, and merely slapped quarterback Tom Brady’s shoulder pad. A questionable call, but the game continued. Then, late in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady went for Julian Edelman for a pass, which was deflected, and caught by the Chiefs’ Daniel Sorenson and returned for a miraculous pick-six. The play would be taken back though, as officials did not warn Chiefs’ Dee Ford that he was lined up for the play offsides, an occurrence that usually warrants a warning from officials before the ball is even snapped. This play would have given the Chiefs a 28-24 lead, and surely the win with only one minute and one second left in the game. They would go on to lose in overtime, where the Chiefs offense never got the ball back.
Championship weekend is just one of many examples during the 2018 NFL season where the officiating was inconsistent, and seemingly incompetent. Will the NFL fix this issue soon, or will football fans have to endure their teams’ bad outcomes due to missed calls for years to come?