Chiefs Packers Dec 3, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers cornerback Carrington Valentine (37) bats a way a pass intended for Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (11) during the fourth quarter of their game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

At present, we can distinguish between two types of NFL rules analysts. The first type is those who will support their colleagues and take responsibility for even the most terrible calls. The second type is those who are rule experts and will offer their impartial views, leaving no room for confusion or misinterpretation.

During the Sunday Night Football broadcast on NBC in Week 13, all eyes were on Terry McAulay as the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers ended with a series of controversial calls. McAulay didn’t treat the audience as fools. He immediately provided his interpretation of the controversial calls. Although he didn’t criticize Brad Allen’s officiating crew, he didn’t sugarcoat his words.

An officiating issue arose with just over a minute left in a one-score (27-19) game, On a 2nd-and-10, Patrick Mahomes scrambled for a first down when Packers safety Jonathan Owens hit him. In real-time, it appeared that Owens had hit Mahomes late and out of bounds, but the replay showed that Owens had followed the rules and his hit on Mahomes was legal.

However, Allen’s crew had made a different call. They considered Owens’ hit a personal foul and added 15 yards to the end of Mahomes’ 9-10-yard scramble. McAulay, much like the viewers at home, didn’t see it that way.

“Cris, this is absolutely not a foul,” McAulay told fellow NBC analyst Cris Collinwoswrth. “The competition committee two years in a row has talked about points of emphasis and points of clarification. (Mahomes) is trying to gain yardage. He’s gotta get himself out of bounds. He didn’t. He’s in bounds. This is NOT a personal foul. Should not have been called.”

The officials during the game’s final drive made numerous bad calls.

The poor officiating continued even after a fumble was ruled down by contact and Isaiah Pacheco was ejected. If we’re going to be critical of the officials, it’s also important to acknowledge them for doing a good job. In this case, they quickly resolved the issue. Despite this, there was a missed pass interference call which only made the situation worse.

On the subsequent play, Mahomes threw a deep pass in the direction of Marquez Valdes-Scantling. However, Packers defensive back Carrington Valentine interfered with MVS, thus impeding his chance to catch the ball within the 5-yard line. If successful, the catch could have potentially led to a game-tying score.

McAulay was unequivocal in his assessment that it constituted a foul, leaving no room for interpretation.

“I’m not sure how this isn’t a foul but, we’ll take a look,” said Collinsworth. “That’s gotta be a foul. That’s gotta be a foul.”

“This is a foul,” added McAulay. “He’s playing through the back. This is defensive pass interference.”

Let’s talk about the final play of the game, shall we?

Mahomes threw a Hail Mary into the end zone, but it fell short. However, upon reviewing several angles, it was clear that All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce was pushed in the back. Although officials often allow players to play through interference on desperation throws, this was a foul and should’ve been called as such. It shouldn’t matter what type of throw it is; there should be consistency in calling fouls across the board. Unfortunately, missed calls were a consistent theme throughout the final minute of Sunday night’s game.

“It looked in real-time, Cris, a two-hand shove in the back, not playing the ball,” McAulay said. “I think if this is NOT a Hail Mary, it’s absolutely pass interference. I get it; you let a lot more go. But, it sure looks like there’s a two-hand shove right there. You see Kelce moving forward.”

Collinsowrth, a former receiver himself, wanted a foul to be called.

“There was a push,” he said. “You can’t deny it. There was a push.”

Although McAulay was more conservative in his approach to the call than the other others, it seems to be a common practice in officiating that the whistle swallowed during a Hail Mary play. For better or for worse, it is just how the game is officiated. However, there would have been less controversy if the previous plays in the drive had been officiated fairly. The lack of a call on the Hail Mary only reinforced that argument.

It is refreshing to see McAulay’s willingness to critique his colleagues in the opaque world of NFL officiating. However, it remains to be seen whether his opinion will stand alone or ignite a reform in NFL officiating. Although the answer to this question is predictable, it’s still worth pointing out.

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.