Why The 2019 NFL Playoffs Were Tainted

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There are 2 minutes left in the game, Drew Brees has a chance to take the lead late trailing 38-31 against the Patrick Mahomes led Chiefs in a back and forth shootout. Mahomes has awed the crowd with his rocket launcher that is his right arm and Drew Brees has matched it with the spectacular play that has him in the MVP conversion. 2 leading MVP candidates going head to head on the NFL’s biggest stage. But then you wake up… This is the Super Bowl we wanted. And the Super Bowl we deserved… While the Rams and the Patriots will take the field in Super Bowl LIII, both of these teams got here because of extremely poor officiating. (and some luck on the Patriots side) Something needs to change because this NFL postseason will forever be filled with “what ifs” and calls (or no calls) that will be compared to some of the most infamous of calls in NFL history.

An Instagram post by ESPN highlights some of the worst officiating in the NFL postseason. This list was always headlined by the “Tuck Rule game” in 2002 that led to the Patriots defeating the Raiders in a controversial fashion and the “Dez caught it game” in 2015 where the million dollar question in the NFL, ‘Whats a catch?’ came into full effect (When wide receiver, Dez Bryant, caught a ball down the field that would have put the Dallas Cowboys in a great spot to defeat the Packers, but after review, the refs ruled this to not be a catch claiming that when Dez reached for the pylon, the ball came loose and he did not fully complete the catch). Now as much as I love a good ol’ Cowboys heartbreaking defeat, this was a horrible call that will remain one of the most infamous referee blunders in history/

Another major referee decision, or in this case, no decision, cost the New Orleans Saints a trip to Atlanta. A clash between the NFC’s best was tainted by a horrible no call of pass interference. The Saints were driving down the field with the score tied at 20. Time was running out and guru Coach Sean Mcvay had almost no magic left. The Saints were trying to put away the game and run the clock down to kick a go-ahead game-winning field goal that would send them to be the NFC’s representative in the Superbowl. With 1:48 left on the clock in regulation, it was 3rd down and 10 from the Rams 13 yard line. MVP candidate Drew Brees dropped back and sent one in the direction of WR Tommylee Lewis. But as Lewis was headed towards the ball, he was met by Rams defender Nickell Robey-Coleman who tackled him before the ball arrived at Lewis. The Superdome rose in potential excitement, bars in New Orleans rejoiced for a few seconds. Why? This was an obvious case of pass interference which would grant New Orleans the ball half the distance to the goal line and an automatic first down in which they could have milked the clock all the way down and kicked a field goal with the clock striking 0:00. Everyone saw this. Everyone except for the people in the white and black uniforms on the field. The referees did not make the call which eventually led to the Rams taking down the Saints in overtime and gaining their tickets to the Superbowl. This should hopefully highlight the need in the offseason to allow teams to challenge potential flags or at least have them be reviewable. So, in case a referee misses a call as obvious as this, they can catch it and overturn the call.

If the call was overturned, maybe the super bowl matchup would be different. On the AFC side, you have potentially the greatest QB of all time, Tom Brady, and a potential $200 million dollar man Patrick Mahomes go head to head. While most of America is sick of watching the Patriots go to yet another Superbowl, the Patriots continue to do so. Brady stepped up when it counted and they won in a much better way than the Rams did.

But that’s not to say the Patriot’s game was totally perfect at all.  A terrible call by the referees again gave the Patriots a first down after a Chiefs defender fairly touched Tom Brady’s shoulder and was penalized with a “roughing the passer” call. Again, if these questionable calls were allowed to be reviewed, the issue could be avoided. Regardless, the Pats took advantage and scored against a rather weak Chiefs defense. Even though Tom Brady returned to the Superbowl and won yet another ring, the Chiefs playoff game could have changed this outcome. A game-winning pick for the Chiefs in the waning moments of the game was negated by a offsides penalty that didn’t affect the play. Additionally, maybe if the coin toss in overtime had gone differently, Patrick Mahomes wouldn’t have been held on the sideline and could have orchestrated a game-winning drive. Though, now I’m just getting into “what if’s”. For now, I guess we will just have to wait until next year to see if anyone can overthrow the Patriots and get luck on their side.