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Controversial Calls Impacting Game Outcomes Sunday

On Sunday, January 29th, The Super Bowl LVII pairings were on the line. The day's first game was the NFC Conference Championship between The Philadelphia Eagles and The San Francisco 49ers. The second game consisted of The AFC Championship between The Kansas City Chiefs and The Cincinnati Bengals. 


Playing at the Super Bowl is at stake. Every decision, every replay, every call, every non-call, and every yard counts. The winner of each game will advance.


There were numerous calls, and non-calls made that shifted the game. Looking at the NFC Championship game first, the first mishap happened in the last fifteen seconds of the first quarter. 


Eagles' punter Brett Kern hit a punt suspected of hitting Fox's SkyCam wire that hovered over the field. According to the 2022 NFL Rulebook, if the ball encounters a foreign object outside the field, it is replayed from the original line of scrimmage. This call would have reset the clock to the time before the Eagles played the down. 


This rule was not enacted. Instead, officials ruled there was no clear evidence to hold up the claim that the ball hit the wire. Fans claim that the NFL should have checked the SkyCam's footage for shaky footage at the time of the suspected collision. However, the evidence would not have clearly shown that the shaky footage resulted from the ball hitting the wire. 


The next controversial call came with 10:28 remaining in the first quarter. Whether officials should have reviewed DeVonta Smith's catch on the fourth and third were raised into question.


The next snap happened within twenty-eight seconds of the first. Eagles receiver DeVonta Smith was credited with a 29-yard catch along the left sideline. Smith bounced back up quickly and pushed the next play along. Moving into the next play with haste prohibited a protest.


Several minutes later, Fox showed a clip of the ball hitting the ground before Smith had fully secured the ball. Smith could have pushed the next play because he knew he had not entirely made the catch.


According to the 2022 NFL Rulebook, a forward pass is complete if the player who makes the catch "secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground." This pass should have been ruled incomplete by this definition and with the footage shown.


The AFC Championship game between the Chiefs and the Bengals had a controversial call that upset fans. This call came with 10:29 left in the fourth quarter when officials gave the Chiefs a second chance on a third-down play due to a clock error.  


The Bengals stopped the Chiefs on a play that should have been the fourth down. However, the officials did not hear the attempt to stop the play before it began. A whistle was blown because the game clock was still running before the ball was snapped. A rerun of the play was called. 


According to the 2022 NFL Rulebook, "The Referee is the final authority for the score. If there is a disagreement between members of the crew regarding the number of down, any decision, or the application, enforcement, or interpretation of a rule, the Referee's decision will be final."


If there is a disagreement during the game, the Referee’s decision is final. Although fans may not agree with the calls made during these games, they cannot be negotiated and, frustratingly, may change the game’s outcome.


The Philadelphia Eagles and The Kansas City Chiefs will be facing off in Super Bowl LVII on Sunday, February 12th.

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