A blown pass interference in New Orleans headlined a day of questionable officiating. 

By Michael Shapiro
January 20, 2019

A pair of teams punched their ticket to Super Bowl LIII on Sunday with the Rams winning the NFC Championship and the Patriots claiming the AFC crown. But the play on the field was somewhat marred by a string of questionable calls by referees. 

Here's a roundup of the most controversial calls of championship weekend. 

Rams vs. Saints

Fourth Quarter: Missed Facemask

On a second-and-goal with just fewer than seven minutes left in the NFC title game, Rams quarterback Jared Goff looked to sneak into the end zone on a scramble after rolling out to his left on a pass play.

As Goff started to go down short of the goal line, it appeared New Orleans linebacker A.J. Klein got his hand on the quarterback's facemask.

The Rams had to settle for a field goal on the drive that tied the game at 20 at the time.

Fourth Quarter: Missed Pass Interference

The most blatant missed call on Sunday came with the Saints driving inside the Rams' red zone in the final two minutes of regulation. Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman appeared to interfere with a third-down pass attempt, but was not flagged, limiting the Saints to a field goal. The blown call allowed the Rams to stay in the game and drive down the field for a game-tying field goal by kicker Greg Zuerlein.

Zuerlein converted from 57 yards in overtime to give Los Angeles a 26-23 victory. 

Chiefs vs. Patriots

Fourth Quarter: Chiefs Roughing the Passer

An incompletion from Tom Brady in the fourth quarter appeared to mark fourth down, but the Patriots were aided by a roughing the passer call on Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones. 

Jones does chop toward Brady's facemask, but the amount of contact is, well, questionable. New England scored a touchdown on the drive to take a 24-21 lead.

Fourth Quarter: Julian Edelman Muffed Punt Overturned

Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman fumbled a punt return with New England up 17-14 in the fourth quarter, setting the Chiefs up in New England territory. But after replay review, it was ruled Edelman didn't touch the punt, reversing the muff and returning possession to New England. 

Kansas City regained possession two plays later, though, on a tipped interception off the hand of Edelman. Kansas City scored after the turnover.

Fourth Quarter: Missed Offensive Pass Interference On Chiefs' Pick Play

Trailing 24-21, Kansas City needed a big play with just fewer than thre minutes remaining in the game.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes looked for a quick hit to wide receiver Sammy Watkins and it turned into a 38-yard gain that set up a touchdown.

However, wide receiver Chris Conley might have gotten away with offensive pass interference by setting a pick on the play.

And that move was not missed by Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

Fourth Quarter: Chiefs Penalty Negates Interception

Kansas City had the game won with an interception of Brady up 28-24 with 1:01 remaining in regulation. But the pick was nullified when Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford was flagged for lining up in the neutral zone.

"They said I was in the neutral zone. I've got to see the ball," Ford said postgame. "I've got to see the ball. Especially at that time in that game and what was at stake, I've got to see that ball."

The Patriots and Rams will square off in Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3. Kickoff from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta is slated for 6:30 p.m. ET. 

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