The Biggest Blown Call of Super Bowl LIV

Super Bowl LIV between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers was a hectic affair featuring an avalanche of a comeback by the Chiefs when they scored 21 4th quarter points. Kyle Shanahan, Jimmy Garoppolo, and the 49ers had the game in their hands but let it slip from their grasps. Andy Reid finally did not have to worry about time management as Patrick Mahomes took over with some obvious missteps from Robert Saleh and the 49ers defense. But the most pivotal play was Damien Williams’ touchdown before the two-minute warning. A play that was reviewed multiple times before being upheld. But Bill Vinovich, his crew, and the NFL blew the call. They all missed a blatant offensive pass interference on Travis Kelce for the biggest blown call of Super Bowl LIV.

It is inconceivable how Roger Goodell and the NFL decided on Vinovich–he of the blown NFC Championship non-Defensive Pass Interference Call–as the referee for Super Bowl LIV. He was at the head of a blown call so blatant the NFL had to change their rules to make sure something like that never happened again. So what happened? Something almost as bad happened this season on the most important play of the season. First, take a look at the official Offensive Pass Interference Rule:

NFL Offensive Pass Interference

NFL Offensive Pass Interference

Looking at the rule, it is quite difficult to comprehend how Bill Vinovich and crew committed the biggest blown call of Super Bowl LIV.

This is clear and blatant offensive pass interference: Kelce is blocking Richard Sherman more than one yard past the line of scrimmage, he is blocking more than one yard downfield before the ball is thrown, and he is blocking more than one yard while the ball is in the air. Any way you look at this, it is offensive pass interference on Travis Kelce. Yes, Sherman and Kelce initially engage at the one-yard barrier, with Sherman putting his hand on Kelce first, but Kelce immediately gets in on the chest of Sherman and starts to shove him back. He keeps pushing until Sherman is finally able to disengage at roughly the one-yard line, at which point Sherman is just a hair too late as Williams scores by mere inches (or maybe even an inch).

How Did Vinovich and Crew Commit the Biggest Blown Call of Super Bowl LIV

There are a couple of things that stand out more than anything else when it comes to the biggest blown call of Super Bowl LIV. First, Kelce and Sherman are out on an island. There is literally nobody else outside of the hashes on that side of the field. It is almost impossible to miss something that is the only thing available to look in your section of the field. And yet, multiple officials miss the call. Secondly, Kelce and the Chiefs give the play away and profess for all the world to see that this is pass interference. At no point does Kelce run a route on the play. This is a designed pick play. And the Chiefs execute it poorly because Kelce is blocking well past the one-yard limit, and yet the officials miss it. There is no excuse for it, and yet here we are.

Third–and most importantly/quirkily–the 49ers were unbelievably unlucky on the play. Specifically, because Sherman fights through Kelce and almost gets to Williams, everyone’s attention gets focused on whether or not Williams scored/if they ball broke the plane before he stepped out (it did). Instead of the entire world concentrating on whether or not there was offensive pass interference (there was), the world was riveted on if the ball broke the plane. Anything else and the review catches the offensive pass interference: if Sherman is a hair slower, Williams scores easily (and the touchdown gets overturned on video review), if Sherman is a hair faster, he tackles Williams inbounds and the Chiefs have a 4th and Goal from the one.

The 49ers deserved to lose the game because of their terrible playcalling and execution on both the offensive and defensive end in the 4th quarter. However, it did not help they were on the wrong side of the biggest blown call of Super Bowl LIV. If everything was called correctly, the Chiefs would have had 3rd and Goal at the 15-yard-line. Considering Mahomes troubles and decision making in the Super Bowl, nothing was certain, but more than likely the Chiefs get stopped and kick a field goal to make it 20-20. Who knows what happens if the 49ers have three timeouts with 2+ minutes left only needing a field goal to win Super Bowl LIV. However, what we do know is they never got the chance because of the biggest blown call of Super Bowl LIV.