People Are Calling The NFL Rigged More Than Ever After AFC & NFC Championship Games
The Bengals failed to punch their ticket to Super Bowl 2023 on Sunday night, falling to the Chiefs, 23-20, in a last-second loss as their quest for back-to-back AFC championships fell just short.
And while it was a tightly contested game throughout, Cincinnati fans fumed over the result — with much of their ire directed toward the referees for a number of moments throughout the game.
Perhaps their biggest gripe came in the game’s final minute. The Bengals punted the ball away to Kansas City with the game tied at 20. Chiefs receiver Skyy Moore took the punt return 29 yards to right near midfield — but Cincinnati fans contested that officials missed an illegal block in the back that would have negated the huge gain.
It’s a bang-bang play and not overwhelmingly clear, but there did appear to be a block at the top of the play that sprung Moore for a big gain. A couple of plays later, Joseph Ossai’s brutal late hit on Patrick Mahomes put the Chiefs in field-goal range, and they converted.
There were other bizarre officiating quirks in the game that seemed to adversely affect the Bengals — perhaps the most notable one occurring earlier in the fourth quarter with the game still tied, 20-20. Mahomes threw an incomplete pass intended for Jerick McKinnon on second down, bringing up third-and–9. However, the clock erroneously continued to run despite the pass falling incomplete, and no one seemed to notice. The Chiefs ended up running a third-down play — a short completion — and the Bengals appeared to have a crucial stop, but officials ran onto the field before the ball was snapped in an attempt to blow the play dead and get the clock sorted.
Then, they gave the Chiefs a second chance to run the play. And while Cincinnati ended up getting yet another stop, Bengals cornerback (and notable loudmouth) Eli Apple was called for defensive holding, giving the Chiefs a fresh set of downs. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor was seen screaming at the officials on the sideline in the aftermath. Additionally, Joe Burrow was called for intentional grounding on a play where he appeared to be hit as he threw by the Chiefs’ Khalen Saunders. Burrow dirted the ball near a pair of linemen and the ball did not travel past the line of scrimmage.