How much did officials influence the outcome of Super Bowl LVI?

We analyze the most controversial plays in the Rams’ victory over the Bengals for the NFL title, with a magnifying glass on the performance of the Zebras

For the second time in franchise history, Los Angeles Rams are Super Bowl championsafter beating by a score of 23-20 at Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI.

However, the triumph did not come without controversy. Here’s a look at the most controversial officiating decisions in the game. SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.:


What happened at the end of the Rams’ winning series?

Fourth period, 1:51-1:38 to play

What happened? A four-play sequence on the most crucial possession of the game included four flags and a huge mess. The referee’s crew Ron Torbert he had thrown just four handkerchiefs in total up to that point in the match.

How was it resolved? The rams they got an additional first down, but also had a touchdown erased during a crazy sequence, before taking the lead for good.

Analysis: The sequence began with rams facing a second chance at the 8-yard line of the Bengals. the gang of torbert decided against penalizing the Los Angeles linebacker Bengals, Germaine Pratt for holding or pass interference against the runner Darrell Henderson Jr.. in a delivery through the center of the field. Replays showed Pratt restricting to Henderson of reaching the ball, both before and after the quarterback of the Rams, Matthew Staffordwould come off the ovoid.

On the next play, the gang of torbert was mobilized. He penalized the linebacker of the Bengals, Logan Wilsonfor holding the wide receiver of the Rams, Cooper Kuppin another incomplete pass, giving the rams a first down at his 4-yard line. There seemed to be less aggressive contact from Wilson on that play, but we’ve seen similar decisions in other matches in the NFL that were officiated more strictly than the superbowl.

On the third play, there was a touchdown pass to Kuppnullified by penalties against the offensive lineman of the Rams, Rob Havensteinfor holding, and against the safety of the Bengals, Vonn Bell, for unnecessary rudeness. The punishment for the late blow of Bell at the head of Kupp after the touchdown was certainly justified, while the action of Havenstein It wasn’t unlike many blocks that weren’t penalized throughout the night.

On the fourth play, the cornerback of the Bengals, Eli Applewas called for pass interference while trying to prevent Kupp catch the ovoid on the diagonals, giving the rams another series of attempts that, in the end, they did not need.

It’s important to look at these calls as a whole, because they exposed the tightrope officials walk when they do what most fans say they want: let play. Doing so invites players to ramp up their aggression, and test how much they can get away with. By the end of the match, there are players clearly holding, defying punishment. When the officials inevitably throw their handkerchiefs, they appear to be “inconsistent,” or straying from the tone they followed for the rest of the game. The reality is that they respond to what the players do as a result of that very tone.

Viewed separately, none of those handkerchiefs was wholly unwarranted. But if you want to know why officials suddenly started throwing them in the final two minutes of the Super Bowl, the “let play” consequence should be a big part of that conversation.


Is there no penalty for pulling on the mask?

Third period, 14:44 to play

What happened? The receiver of BengalsTee Higgins grabbed the corner of the RamsJalen Ramseyby the mask and turned his head, taking out Ramsey of position while Higgins jumped for the pass Joe Burrow.

How was it resolved? Higgins he was not penalized, and his 75-yard touchdown on the play was passed.

Analysis: It was not an unexpected result for those who watched the match closely. Referee Ron’s crew torbert he only threw three flags in the first half, and all three were unavoidable: one for delay in the game, one for a false start, and one for unsportsmanlike conduct when an inactive player on the Bengalsthe corner Vernon HargreavesIIIran onto the field to celebrate an interception in street clothes.

That’s a complex way of saying that there wasn’t a single flag for an appraisal play such as grabs, pass interference, or, taking from the mask. Keep in mind that the crew of torbert did not throw handkerchief when Ramsey took the sweater from Higgins on a third down that resulted in an incomplete pass at the goal line in the first period, sidelining the Bengals to kick a 29-yard field goal. Based on the way the first half was officiated, both teams did well to raise their level of aggressiveness in the second half, and Higgins did just that. In all matches, officials must judge whether contact against a player’s mask constitutes a “force,” as required by the rule book. Since officers are human, interpretations may vary.

We have absolutely seen handkerchiefs for instances comparable to what he did Higgins on Sunday. But the gang torbert, at least up to that point, he was clearly not looking to insert himself into the party. It is up to the players on both sides to adjust accordingly.

The touchdown would not have counted, and the Bengals they would have been penalized 15 yards if the handkerchief had been thrown.

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