The officiating crew that did not call a blatant and potentially game-deciding pass interference penalty during Sunday night's game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers game missed a similar call one week earlier in Atlanta on a play that harkened back to one of the most controversial non-calls in NFL history.
With Kansas City attempting a game-tying rally in the final minute in Lambeau Field, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw a long pass to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but Packers cornerback Carrington Valentine appeared to go over Valdes-Scantling's back before the ball arrived.
The Chiefs sideline screamed for a pass interference penalty while Valdes-Scantling threw up his arms, looking for a flag that was not thrown. The Packers held on for the win 27-19.
Officials are evaluated on every play of every game. League officiating staff analyze the performance of every official, both for the calls that are made and those that are not. That review results in a grade which plays a major role in determining how to help the officials improve their performance as well as decide which officials will officiate in the playoffs. There are also year-end evaluations of every official.
Former NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said this week that the non-call against Valdes-Scantling was the most obvious missed call he has seen since that Rams-Saints NFC Championship Game in 2018. And there is a tie that binds those plays.
The crew that officiated the Packers-Chiefs game, led by referee Brad Allen, also handled the Saints-Falcons game on Nov. 26 in Atlanta, where there was another controversial missed defensive pass interference call.
With 4:07 remaining in the second quarter, on second-and-9 at the Falcons' 23-yard line, Saints quarterback Derek Carr threw a pass to running back Alvin Kamara, who was being defended by linebacker Kaden Elliss. The pass fell incomplete on a play in which Elliss never turned around to defend the ball, but Allen's crew did not call pass interference.
The Superdome and the Saints organization were furious at the lack of a pass interference call on the play, which prompted the Saints to kick a field goal and trim their deficit to 14-9 with 3:54 remaining in the first half. The Saints (5-7) ultimately lost the game 24-15 and trail the first-place Falcons (6-6) in the NFC South.
Missed pass interference calls are nothing new to the Saints, who famously experienced a missed pass interference in the NFC Championship Game against the Rams after the 2018 season, when Los Angeles defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman got away with blatant pass interference near the end of regulation. If the penalty had been called by the officiating crew led by referee Bill Vinovich, New Orleans likely would have reached the Super Bowl instead of Los Angeles.
Allen's crew will be under increased scrutiny when they officiate Sunday's game at MetLife Stadium between the Texans and Jets. Many, including the NFL, will be watching to see if there's another decision by Allen's crew that draws the ire of teams the way it did the past two weeks.