Breakdowns

Super Bowl LVI Instant Reaction: Lack of Calls ≠ Good Officiating

Super Bowl LVI Instant Reaction: Lack of Calls ≠ Good Officiating

Though mistaken calls by the refs garner all the criticism, missing calls can dictate the game just as much. There’s an assumption that the refs “letting the players play” and not calling penalties means that they are not having an impact on game. Yet, this is a false notion — it occurs in every Super Bowl, and Super Bowl LVI was no exception.

We saw numerous examples of the refs failing to make a call that significantly impacted the game. I tweeted the below even before Offensive Pass Interference was not called on Tee Higgins’ 75-yard TD. That was surely the biggest no call, but it wasn’t the only miss by the refs.

Here are a few of the most crucial non-calls:

Aaron Donald lines up offsides on 4th and 1 on the Bengals’ first drive of the game. For all intents and purposes, this is basically a turnover because they don’t call the penalty on Donald. The Rams got the ball back and proceeded to take a 7-0 lead.

Jalen Ramsey holds Tee Higgins on a would-be TD on 3rd and 10 on the Rams 11. Cincinatti settles for a Field Goal, which makes it a 7-3 game.

Tee Higgins pulls Jalen Ramsey’s facemask on the Bengals’ 75-yard TD to begin the second half. It should have been offensive pass interference; instead, the Bengals took a 17-13 lead. On the first play of the Rams’ next drive, Stafford was intercepted. 

Suddenly, however, after almost no penalties for 58+ minutes, the refs called 4 penalties in 3 plays on LA’s go-ahead drive. Perhaps even worse, they missed the most egregious foul on this drive. They also missed a false start on the Rams, then proceeded to call defensive holding when it simply shouldn’t have been a flag.

Missed false start:

Defensive holding penalty on Bengals:

From the lack of calls on flagrant fouls to ticky-tack flags, the inconsistency from the refs was a game-deciding factor.