The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Green Bay Buccaneers on Sunday 31-26 to advance to the Super Bowl. The victory did not come without controversy.
With the Packers down five and just over a minute remaining on the clock, Tom Brady threw what appeared to be an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-4. For a second, it looked like Green Bay would get the ball back with an opportunity to win the game.
From seemingly out of nowhere, a flag was thrown way late on defensive back Kevin King for pass interference.
Replays of the Pass Interference call. pic.twitter.com/pUv2ajQOfo
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) January 24, 2021
Although the call was technically correct, the manner in which it happened rubbed a lot of people the wrong way – including Aaron Rodgers. He had to be restrained from an official while arguing his case.
Aaron Rodgers talking to the refs. pic.twitter.com/QGhVJ4JXGA
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 24, 2021
Part of the problem that Rodgers and many others had with that particular sequence is the fact that the officiating had been horrendous for large swaths of the game. For whatever reason, the referees vacillated between not calling any penalties at all and calling game-altering ones – with the Packers consistently finding themselves on the wrong side of the decision.
Case in point: when the officials allowed the Bucs to go into halftime with a lead thanks to an interception thrown by Rodgers in the final minute of the second quarter. The problem? A clear penalty on the play that went unnoticed.
No holding lol pic.twitter.com/fORzejHplz
— Billy M (@BillyM_91) January 24, 2021
Sean Murphy-also-probably-holding pic.twitter.com/vc3zdQDPCX
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) January 24, 2021
A non-call there was absolutely insane, and in a game decided by one score, it proved to be the difference.
Now we know what motivates Gronk to play so hard. https://t.co/xFnKnjoXQ4
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 24, 2021
At a certain point, the league will need to step in and do something about the refereeing that is messing up the integrity of their sport. Otherwise reactions like Rodgers’ are going to become a lot more common than anyone in the NFL might like.