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Now that the dust has settled: Did the Vikings get robbed of victory?

Whether you’re a fan or player, it isn’t always correct to blame officiating for a loss, but sometimes it’s worth questioning. Yes, during the Minnesota Vikings 27-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, they again turned the ball over, and its work-in-progress defense went against perhaps the most talented quarterback of all-time.

But the Vikings, in the fourth quarter were still in the game and with less than nine minutes left, had a chance to drive downfield for a game-tying touchdown. On a 4th and 12, at the Chiefs 24-yard line, Kirk Cousins lofted a desperation pass towards Jordan Addison in the end zone, which fell to the turf at U.S Bank Stadium, giving the Chiefs the ball back. That’s when it all broke loose.

Initially, after the play, the official threw a flag indicating that L’Jarius Snead made too much contact with Addison, which was visible on the replay as both players were heading downfield. After the play, Snead took his helmet off, with the official telling him to put it back on.

Whether it’s a defensive holding or pass interference or not, according to the NFL rulebook, a player cannot take his helmet off, and what makes matters worse is the motive was Snead complaining to the referee. Per the NFL rulebook this is an issue:

According to the rulebook, officials will flag players for unsportsmanlike conduct should they see a “removal of his helmet by a player in the field of play or the end zone during a celebration or demonstration, or during a confrontation with a game official or any other player.

Yes, it would have been the Chiefs ball, but this is still a penalty and affects where the ball is placed when their offense takes the field. Instead of the Vikings driving from their own 19, as they did get the ball back, they would have had a closer shot if that penalty is called.

While Snead wasn’t called for a penalty, that wasn’t even the worst missed call on the play. With Steve Spagnuolo bringing pressure, it left fullback C.J Ham in pass protection, where he was brutally harassed in the facemask area. According to the rules, this is a no-no, and if the most notable no-calls on the play weren’t called, this one for sure should have been an automatic first down. But it wasn’t.

Examining other plays

The Vikings’ fourth down play with under five minutes to play was only a microcosm of questionable calls not going in Minnesota’s favor. Shortly before halftime, on a 2nd and 10, from the Chief 41, Mahomes launched a sideline pass to Justin Watson, which ended up being a first down. But, looking at the replay, it is not clear when he has full possession of the ball until he is out of bounds. The play stood, and the Chiefs ended up kicking a field goal.

On another Chiefs touchdown drive, Travis Kelce made a third-down catch over Josh Metellus on 3rd and 7. As Kelce was going down with the ball, it appeared that he didn’t have full control, and it ended up in the hands of Josh Metellus for an interception. Kevin O’Connell challenged the play; the ruling was not in his favor, and the Chief maintained possession to go up two scores.

Switching to another Chiefs touchdown drive, on a 4th and 1, Harrison Smith was called for a pass interference penalty on Marquez Valdes-Scantling on an underthrown ball by Mahomes. A closer look at the play shows that Valdes-Scantling held Smith during the play.

And of course, there were a couple of other no-calls in the trenches.

Coincidence or not?

There’s always going to be a question on whether NFL officiating has a bias towards specific teams and players. While there is very little merit to this, it’s worth bringing up discussion following yesterday’s game. Yes, the Chiefs were penalized more than the Vikings, but it would have added salt to the wound if those flags weren’t thrown.

Last week, the game between the Chiefs and New York Jets ended in controversial fashion in what would be a narrow Kansas City victory, which even led to Tyreek Hill commenting on the outcome of that game, as well as the Super Bowl.

At the end of the day, there’s nothing that can be done. The Vikings drop to 1-4, while the Chiefs escape to move to 4-1, but from a fan perspective, it becomes frustrating when officiating isn’t consistent and becomes the center of attention. Minnesota has had its issues with officiating before, Drew Pearson, the bounty gate, and the Tampa game in 2020, this is another game that will be remembered as such.

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