NFL’s officiating was once again horrendous on Championship Sunday

There were a series of questionable, mystifying performances between the two games on the NFL’s Championship Sunday — Patrick Mahomes in the second half, Sean McVay burning relentlessly through timeouts and challenges — but the worst performance of the weekend may have been from the folks in white and black.

This weekend saw another round of painful officiating, starting early in the Chiefs-Bengals game and never looking back. On a third-and-1, Kansas City fullback Michael Burton appeared to pick up a first down on a run play, but the officials gave him a terrible spot, forcing Chiefs head coach Andy Reid to challenge.

Reid also burned a timeout before the challenge, which was arguably his fault, but he likely wouldn’t have had to do so had the officials properly spotted the ball in the first place. That lost timeout proved costly, as the Chiefs were unable to stop the clock as Tyreek Hill was tackled a yard short of the goal line at the end of the first half, and they came away with no points. Perhaps that could have decided the game in the Chiefs’ favor, as they were tied at the end of regulation.

Later in the first quarter, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow threw into the end zone for receiver Tee Higgins, who attempted to make the catch with one hand. Why did he only try to catch it with one hand? Because his other arm was being obviously held by Chiefs defensive back Rashad Fenton.

Cornerback Rashad Fenton appears to hold Tee Higgins in a pass into the end zone
Getty Images

But, no call, and after a failed third down the Bengals had to settle for a field goal. They managed to battle back to tie (and eventually win) the game, but if you ask the Chiefs, Cincinnati shouldn’t have had the chance to kick the game-winning field goal. With the Bengals driving, running back Joe Mixon took off for a run, and stumbled down past the first-down line – only to let go of the ball.

The Chiefs picked up the ball, thinking it was a fumble, but the play was blown dead. But should it have been? It’s easy to argue no.

Reid, who unsuccessfully lobbied the officials after the play, told reporters after the game that the zebra told him Mixon gave himself up. But it’s clear that he stumbled and fell. At best, it was due to a Chiefs player touching him (which would be a tackle, not him giving himself up), but it appears much more likely that he ran into his own player and wasn’t down. In which case, there would be a clear recovery from Kansas City — drastically changing the outcome of the game.

But, no review, and the Bengals went on to win. Then came the Rams-49ers game, where the officiating was somehow just as bad. For much of the game, the refs seemed to turn a blind eye to personal foul calls, starting with what should have been a clear 15-yard penalty on Fred Warner in the first quarter after Matthew Stafford threw an interception.

no-call? no call.

The refs, of course, made up for it, missing a number of delay of game calls on the Rams. Even in a league that is already lenient on enforcing the play clock, it was noticeable at many points throughout the game.

It’s the year 2022, the NFL has billions of dollars and all kinds of advanced technology at its disposal, and yet the league continues to let the officials make baffling mistakes week after week that affect the outcomes of games. When a hundred drunk guys in a bar can tell that they missed a call, why can’t the guys who get paid to enforce the rules do better?

Anyway, to send you off, here’s a missed facemask on Joe Burrow for good measure.

See you for Super Bowl 2022.

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