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FutureStarrWas The Super Bowl Rigged?
The Super Bowl is a once-a-year event watched by millions of viewers and an important source of revenue for the NFL.
Thus, it's no shock that some people believe the games are fixed. This theory has become widely shared on social media platforms.
Referees in sports are an integral part of any game, yet they can be misbehaving when making errors. Sometimes, these calls even determine who wins or loses a contest - it's unfortunate that these calls have such an impact on the outcome.
The NBA has an intricate system for hiring, training and assessing officials. However, there remains a lack of transparency about how referees are chosen or evaluated by the league; leading fans to voice their dissatisfaction with lack of accountability from the organization.
On Sunday, in one of the biggest games of the season involving teams with playoff hopes, refs missed two crucial calls that could have changed the outcome. One was a pass interference call which should have been ruled defensive, and the other was an incorrect formation call on a touchdown.
Though slow-mo replays can help determine whether a call was justified, officials only have seconds to make their decision in real time. That's why it's common in the NFL for there to be four referees on the field at any given time.
When the referee fails to make the right call, it can lead to serious trouble for players and coaches alike. A recent example is when Boston Celtics guard Jae Crowder was ejected for yelling at the referee during a game; but there have been other instances such as this in recent memory.
It's inequitable that players are penalized for shouting at refs in this manner, especially when these situations seem to occur more frequently than expected.
This issue must be addressed, and adding a fourth official won't solve the problem. It requires respecting existing officials and showing them that their work and expertise is valued.
At the Super Bowl, a bad call could mean the difference between winning and losing a game. That is why it is critical for the league to take action on this matter; otherwise, they will continue losing many matches due to ineffective officiating.
In this case, the Colts were expected to prevail because they boasted a better record against quality opponents than poor ones. Indeed, in 2021 the 2021 Colts had an even record against quality opposition than against bad teams - something rare in the NFL.
This game is especially significant because if the Indianapolis Colts win their next game against a struggling Jacksonville Jaguars squad on Sunday, they will secure an AFC playoff spot - an incredible accomplishment for a team that has never had a winning season since Chuck Pagano was dismissed in 2017.
But if the Colts lose their next game, they would likely miss out on a playoff spot and need to beat Jacksonville again to stay in contention. It's an untenable situation for them, but one they are determined to escape from.
Therefore, the Colts must not be too disheartened by their performance on Sunday. Beating the Jaguars and keeping their playoff hopes alive would go a long way towards helping them put this disappointing season behind them.
On the other hand, if they lose to Kansas City on Sunday and the Chiefs go on to win the AFC South, they could potentially face off against Cincinnati Bengals in the wild card round. While this scenario is unlikely, it's something the Colts need to consider.
On Sunday, if the Colts do indeed win and go on to capture the AFC South title, then they will have an 11-6 record and an opportunity to host a playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time in five years - something many eagerly anticipate. It would be an historic feat and many eagerly anticipate its occurrence.
Unfortunately, the Colts didn't have a chance at winning the Super Bowl; that is entirely their own fault. They lost too early and it isn't any reflection on their players or coaches.
In 2012, when the Steelers played the Chargers in a playoff game, they had high hopes that it would send them to the Super Bowl. But an unfortunate refutation by referees ended their hopes quickly.
Two plays that could have won Pittsburgh the game were both disqualified by referees. On the first, Najee Harris' diving leap into the end zone was ruled short of the goal line; had coach Mike Tomlin challenged it, Harris could have scored.
On the second play, a Browns linebacker met Harris at the apex and forced a fumble. The Steelers recovered it and moved into field-goal range. But an interception penalty against Cleveland's Diontae Johnson ended their drive and they ran out of timeouts.
It was an excruciating loss for the Steelers, who had already dropped two games and were desperate to pick up a win in Week 18. Plus, they faced off against the Raiders in Week 18, a game which would decide their place in the playoffs.
If the Steelers lose and the Raiders win, they are out of the playoffs. A win by the Raiders and a Patriots loss would keep them alive; otherwise, another loss by the Raiders and an Eagles victory would ensure their place in the conference finals.
It isn't the first time the Steelers have found themselves in this predicament; in fact, it is their third time this season needing help from outside teams to make the playoffs.
The Steelers have needed outside help twice this season; the Patriots beat them in the final week and the Bengals came up short on the road. Both teams are below-par teams that the Steelers have had difficulty against.
The Steelers have made remarkable progress this year, with Kenny Pickett blossoming under Mike Tomlin's guidance and rookie running back James Conner averaging over 100 yards on 23 carries in his past five games. That marks an enormous improvement from when they started the year 2-6 with a roster that differed significantly from what it is now.
This year, the Eagles had an exemplary team. They went 14-3 during regular-season play and then cruised past the 49ers in the NFC championship game to advance to the Super Bowl; yet ultimately fell short against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs 35-33.
Nick Sirianni, the team's coach, has a reputation for getting his players to work hard and play quickly. Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen has created an efficient zone read offense that requires defenses to make decisions quickly in the second half of games. And defensive line coach Tracy Rocker is an icon with decades of experience under his belt.
Despite all that, they still made numerous errors throughout the game. The offense committed a costly fumble early on, they couldn't slow down Kansas City's ground attack and one of their best corners called an unnecessary holding penalty on the final drive.
In the first half, Philadelphia held a 24--14 lead after DeVonta Smith scored and Jake Elliott made a field goal. But in the second quarter, Philadelphia struggled to run the ball and Mahomes threw two interceptions before being forced out with an ankle injury in the third quarter.
A key factor in the Eagles' victory was their knack for scoring in the red zone. On their opening drive, they had a run-pass option that was initially snuffed out but later called upon Kenneth Gainwell.
On the opening play of the second quarter, Brown streaked down the sideline and into double coverage to give the Eagles their first lead of the game.
On the next drive, Hurts made a signature big play - one the Eagles have become known for in postseason play. On a 45-yard pass from A.J. Brown, Hurts gave Philadelphia its first lead of the game at 14-7.
But the Eagles also gave up a crucial fumble in the first half that was recovered by Nick Bolton. It proved to be the deciding play of the game, giving Kansas City an opportunity to tie or win it with just over one minute remaining in the third quarter.