Just when it looked like the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers’ Sunday Night Football game appeared to be free of any officiating criticism, along came some questionable calls and misses to close it out.
Fans took to social media to immediately identify the gaffes and call out the referees’ mistakes following the Packers’ 27-19 win at Lambeau Field.
Late Hit and Missed PI Among Questionable Calls
The first call in question came with less than one minute left.
Patrick Mahomes was scrambling to his right and aiming to get out of bounds. However, Jonathan Owens was flagged for unnecessary roughness and a late hit on Mahomes. Many believed that Mahomes was still in bounds at the time of the hit.
This play was flagged for unnecessary roughness.
Should there have been no call made 🤔 pic.twitter.com/4MCMIoVn1C
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) December 4, 2023
Fans responded right away on X (formerly known as Twitter) by saying that “no call should’ve been made” on Owens. Another believed that Mahomes purposely “baited” the Packers defender to deliver the hit and get a call his way.
Mahomes and the Chiefs managed to keep their drive alive, but along came another major call in question.
This time, the Chiefs didn’t get a call that would have favored their direction. Mahomes went deep to former Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling inside the Green Bay 10-yard line. Carrington Valentine broke up the pass.
But, Valentine is seen jumping on the back of Scantling and wrapping one arm around his neck. No call for defensive pass interference was made.
No pass interference or flag was thrown on this play 🤔 pic.twitter.com/Kp5998zG0z
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) December 4, 2023
One fan not only voiced their displeasure toward the recent string of bad officiating calls but even sent a post to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“Hey @nfl @nflcommish, how bad does the officiating have to be before you do something? This game alone had two big plays that were clearly called incorrectly that had a direct impact on the game’s outcome. Officiating has been awful all year across the board. What say you NFL?” the fan asked.
National Analysts React to Officiating
Fans who ripped the officials had national allies. One was ESPN NFL analyst Louis Riddick, who believes the officials should be held accountable for missed calls.
“These refs have to be held accountable in some way. Those are two of the worst calls in a critical moment that I may have seen in a long long time,” Riddick said on X.
Rich Eisen of the NFL Network had a more succinct take. “A brutal final minute of officiating,” Eisen said.
Ted Nguyen of The Athletic was more harsh toward the refs after the Packers/Chiefs game. “The state of officiating is terrible. Should have been PI and the clock should have been running on the play after,” Nguyen said.
The calls then brought out two more reactions — from a former Chiefs player and a past Green Bay quarterback.
One was Mitchell Schwartz, who won the Super Bowl with Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and head coach Andy Reid. He admitted it was hard to not discuss the officiating mistakes. Yet, Schwartz also tried to take the high road after watching his former team fall.
“I am NOT blaming the loss on officiating. We were outplayed that game I think we’d all agree to that. Just saying it’s hard not to talk about the officiating and have the what if conversation,” Schwartz said.
Former Packers QB Kurt Benkert, meanwhile, went in the opposite direction. He became defensive of the refs, beginning with the Mahomes call. “Forward progress stopped. Clear as day. She [the sideline judge] doesn’t know the rule clearly. No one would have ever made this call if they did,” Benkert stated.
He was even more straightforward on the botched pass interference call.
“And I don’t want to hear anything about the no PI. That was a makeup call for an egregious personal foul that saved them at least 30 seconds and gave 15 yards,” Benkert said.
But he wasn’t through with his point: “Not to mention the forward progress mishap, 45 seconds right there handed to the Chiefs. And MVS wasn’t even trying to attack the ball on the ‘PI’ or it would have been called. Moving on,” Benkert said.
What Were Patrick Mahomes’ Thoughts on Calls?
Meanwhile, what were the thoughts of one man who was on the field when those calls were made?
Mahomes got asked that burning question post-game, beginning first with the questionable Owens hit.
“It is what it is, man. I mean, honestly, the guy was probably a little early, but at the end of the day, they are letting guys play,” Mahomes said to reporters. “I mean, I am really about that, you let the guys play and win it on the field.”
Despite the scrutiny of the refs’ decisions, Mahomes acknowledged that officials don’t have the easiest gig.
“It is a hard job. But we are in that situation, we can’t be wanting a flag. I need to go out there and win that game with my teammates,” Mahomes said.
The Chiefs and Packers, though, became the latest teams to be involved in the officiating-criticism crossfire that’s engulfed the 2023 season.
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