AFC Title Game Opens Up NFL Referee Debate Once Again

NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs

The somewhat controversial ending to the thrilling Bengals and Chiefs AFC title game on Sunday night has NFL refs on the minds of many this week.

The Kansas City Chiefs recorded a significant punt return with just of 30-seconds left in the game, and Patrick Mahomes converted a big third down that was capped with an unnecessary roughness call as Mahomes stepped out of bounds.

The 15-yard penalty put the Chiefs well within field goal range, and Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker connected on a 45-yard field goal to send the Chiefs to their third Super Bowl in four years.

Twitter Reacts To AFC Championship With #NFLRigged

After the game, Twitter was on fire with both Bengals and Chiefs fans defending their squad and the outcome.

Bengals fans were swift to point out multiple penalties on the big punt return that gave the Chiefs late life and an opportunity to hit a late field goal. But the biggest gripe came from Bengals fans regarding the final play that put the Chiefs in field goal range. The roughing penalty was ill-timed and the reality is that it was probably the correct call.

But was it the only penalty on the play?

Many on Twitter and across social media pointed out a few glaring missed holding calls on the Mahomes scramble.

The National Media Had Some Serious Reactions As Well

Sports talk shows across every medium in the country had plenty to talk about when it came to the AFC Title game and the controversial ending.

From downplaying the role refs played in the outcome to flat-out supporting theories that the NFL has purposely rigged games to achieve a desired Super Bowl matchup, talk radio, podcasts, and sports shows were anything but dull on Monday morning.

Former NFL punter and do-it-all media man Pat McAfee had one of the more animated and wild takes on his Monday morning radio and television show, where he leaned heavily into the idea that the NFL really wanted the Chiefs to play for another Super Bowl.

We’ve Seen This On NFL Championship Weekend Before

It’s been four years since the Saints and all of Saints nation felt robbed of a trip to the Super Bowl after a no-call on what seemed like an extremely obvious pass interference committed by Rams defender Nickell Robey-Coleman.

Like today, the sports world was in a frenzy, and everyone shared their take on the controversial play. To their credit, the NFL reacted fairly swiftly, amending some of their rules around which plays were reviewable and which were not, trying to avoid a missed call leading to the wrong call in such a pivotal moment.

Yet, here we are.

You know that refs can be downright bad if you watch enough football. But it is a part of the game. And it’s almost absurd to think the NFL is rigging football games.

Still, if the NFL wants to put all of these conspiracy theories and the water cooler chatter of rigged games to rest, they need to continue working towards getting calls right on the field, especially on season-changing plays.


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