NFL

There has to be a better way to officiate NFL Championship games

A lot of awesome things happened this weekend in the NFL, but we can’t have nice things and controversy reigns.

What should have been an all-time weekend of championship football is instead being marred by the infamy of bad officiating. It’s almost perfect that despite all the amazing things we saw on Sunday, the referees are getting the most attention from fans.

Peel back the missed pass interference call in New Orleans and the endless reviews in Kansas City and you’ll see that this weekend was marvelous.

For the first time in NFL history, both Championship games were decided in overtime. Patrick Mahomes drove the Chiefs 48 yards in 28 seconds to force overtime at Arrowhead. Tom Brady subsequently converted three 3rd-and-10 situations in overtime to keep Mahomes off the field and advance to his ninth Super Bowl. Greg Zuerlein kicked the longest game-winning field goal in playoff history to complete an upset win over the Saints. Both road teams won for the fourth time ever.

But we can’t have nice things without something to complain about. The controversy of shoddy officiating has been a cloud hanging over the entire season, and it peaked on Sunday.

Everyone is going to talk about the Robey-Coleman play the same way we do the Dez Bryant no-catch. We’re not talking about it if Sean Payton doesn’t call a pass play on first down instead of running the ball and forcing the Rams to use their timeouts. But rather than be a pariah he’s a martyr because a badly blown call wasn’t able to be reviewed in the biggest spot of the season.

Meanwhile, we had three reversed calls in the fourth quarter of the Chiefs-Patriots game, including a momentum-shifting muffed punt by Julian Edelman. Tom Brady drew a roughing the passer penalty from nothing more than being bumped into while throwing the ball, a call that extended a touchdown drive late in the game for New England.

There has to be a better way to do this. These were the most important games of the season with the best teams in the league. We should be talking about how we binge-watched two of the best games of the year back-to-back, but instead, controversy has clouded what should have been a clearly fantastic weekend of football.

It’s the NFL though, so shame on us for being surprised.

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