Mailvox: The Thumb on the Scale

A longtime reader emails his observations:

Two plays where the NFL put their thumb on the scale. One, taking away Devonte. Smith’s reception near the first half. If allowed the Eagles could have gone up by two scores at the half. Instead they got a field goal. And of course, the “holding play” on 3rd down with 1:54 to go.

Totally agreed, with the minor caveat that the first play actually involved two interventions, the first being the invented “substitution” call that permitted the officials to give Andy Reid a chance to challenge the call, which was then overturned despite the absence of clear visual evidence of a non-catch.

There was also an attempt to put a third thumb on the scale, but the Goddard catch was too obviously legitimate to risk overturning. The “holding” call was particularly egregious as the receiver was very little, if at all, impeded, and it literally handed the game to the Chiefs by giving them three more downs to run out the clock before kicking the field goal they would have kicked right away in the absence of the flag.

The purpose, however, was not to favor Mahomes over Hurt. It was to reward Kansas City for throwing the second half against Cincinnati in the AFC Championship game the year before. And while I had no doubt the referees would be favoring the Chiefs, I didn’t think a thumb on the scale would be enough to make up for the obvious superiority of the Eagles.

The headline from Pro Football Talk may be relevant in this regard: Patrick Mahomes: Past postseason failures give you a greater appreciation for winning this game

The non-appearance of the vaunted, near-historic Eagles pass rush against an injured Mahomes makes me wonder if we’ll see Philadelphia similarly rewarded next year. I certainly wouldn’t bet against them so long as Hurts is reasonably healthy. That timely fumble…

A second potentially relevant headline: Nick Sirianni: Failure will motivate us