Chiefs-Packers pass interference: Green Bay holds on after slew of bizarre refereeing decisions, including missed foul on Marquez Valdes-Scantling

The stars were out for the Chiefs and Packers’ ‘Sunday Night Football’ contest, with Patrick Mahomes, Jordan Love, Travis Kelce and even Taylor Swift all making spirited appearances at Lambeau Field.

And yet, when the final whistle blew, it was the refereeing crew that proved the most captivating to the masses.

The Week 13 clash between Kansas City and Green Bay was always tipped to be a competitive one, especially in below-freezing conditions. And like any great matchup between the two historic franchises, it went down to the wire. Mahomes would deliver one haymaker, then Love would counter with one of his own.

However, the game’s final drive was riddled with errors, not by the players on the field (well, at least not all of them), but rather by the pinstriped surveyors watching on the sideline.

You see, there were four dubious decisions in the waning moments of Sunday night’s affair. Suffice to say, each had a notable impact on the game’s final result — a 27-19 win for the Packers.

MORE: Jordan Love outduels Patrick Mahomes as Packers pull to .500 with win

Here’s what you need to know:

How controversial calls marred end of Chiefs-Packers game on ‘Sunday Night Football’

With 1:09 left in regulation, Mahomes and Co. streamed onto the field, aware that they’re only way back was driving some 75 yards to pay dirt — and adding a two-point conversion — to level things at 27.

What followed was an amalgamation of dubious penalties, blatant no calls and even a left hook for good measure. Here’s how it went down.

1:05 remaining: Jonathan Owens penalized for baffling unnecessary roughness

The Chiefs’ trek for a game-tying touchdown started brightly, with Mahomes strutting forward for 10 yards on a scramble. As he pulled up towards the sideline, he collided with Jonathan Owens, who delivered a crunching blow to the Chiefs hurler.

No harm, no foul. Or at least that’s how things appeared to be until a piece of rancid laundry was tossed onto the field. Owens was whistled for an unnecessary roughness call despite tackling Mahomes while he was in bounds. Kansas City was granted 15 additional yards as a result, bringing the Chiefs into Packers territory with a little more than a minute to play.

NBC refereeing expert Terry McAulay disagreed vehemently with the decision.

“This is absolutely not a foul,” McAulay said on the broadcast. “[Mahomes] is trying to gain yardage, he’s got to get himself out of bounds. He didn’t, he’s in bounds. This is not a personal foul. Should not have been called.”

It couldn’t get much worse, could it?

0:57 remaining: Rashee Rice fumble overturned, Isiah Pacheco ejected for punch on Keisean Nixon

Just one play later, it looked like the Chiefs had given up their advantage. Mahomes delivered an arrow to Rashee Rice, who raced down the sideline like a man possessed. He was soon wrapped in a warm embrace by Quay Walker, who ripped the ball away as he landed on the turf. Corey Ballentine scooped it up and scampered some 68 yards to pay dirt, seemingly putting the game on ice.

As it turned out, Rice was down by contact. He fell on his backside with the ball still clearly in his possession, making the fumble null and void. The umpires rightly overturned the call on the field.

MORE: Isiah Pacheco ejected for throwing punch on ‘SNF’

The thing is, that wasn’t all that happened on that play. In the background, Pacheco locked horns with Packers corner Keisean Nixon. Nixon pinned Pacheco down as Ballentine raced to the sideline, drawing his opposition number’s ire. In response, Pacheco delivered a stinging left-handed blow to Nixon’s helmet.

The strike was enough to earn Pacheco his walking papers. Nixon wasn’t penalized for his role in the scrum, although that’s not all that surprising. More often than not, it’s the second guy who gets punished in situations like these.

Still, a hectic play. Fortunately, things can’t get much crazier. Right?

0:49 remaining: Defensive pass interference not called despite clear contact between Carrington Valentine, Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Just one play later, it happened! Another mystifying decision, this one working in the Packers’ favor!

Marquez Valdes-Scantling looked to have the better of Carrington Valentine on a streak pattern, flying down the field in an effort to reel in Mahomes’ lofted throw. As the ball tumbled towards him, he made clear contact with Valentine. In fact, it was more of a bear hug; Valentine cradled Valdes-Scantling, making him feel all at home as he fell to the turf.

It looked like a clear defensive pass interference call. But no whistle was blown. Valdes-Scantling and Mahomes were incensed, stretching their arms to protest the no-call. But the referees were adamant that Valdes-Scantling hadn’t been illegally impeded, even if it was fairly obvious that he had.

Once more, from McAulay:

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

Valdes-Scantling had a similar assessment.

“I couldn’t see anything because I was on the ground,” Valdes-Scantling told reporters postgame. “It’s up to the officials. I can’t control what they do and don’t do. … I know I tried to catch the ball and I couldn’t.”

MORE: The latest updates on Bryan Cook’s ankle injury

No matter. There can’t be any other controversial calls in store. Can there?

0:00 remaining: Jonathan Owens makes contact with Travis Kelce on errant Hail Mary attempt

Mahomes attempted one more prayer on Sunday, launching a moonshot into the night sky in the hopes that it would find red-and-white gloves.

His invocation would go unanswered; his attempt fell harmlessly to the turf. But before that happened, it appeared as if Owens pushed Kelce with two hands as he leapt to catch the ball.

It looked like a 50/50 play, especially given the amount of jostling that usually takes place during Hail Mary’s. Still, it was enough to prompt a flag, at least according to McAulay.

“It looked in real time like 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 a pass interference. I get it, you let a lot more go. But it sure looks like there’s a two-hand shove right there.”

Refereeing is always a sore spot for the league, even at the best of times. Sunday night was not one of those moments. And it could prove vital in a rather hectic playoff race — with the defeat, the Chiefs (8-4) fell one game back of the conference-leading Dolphins, while the Packers (6-6) nabbed a wild-card spot for the time being off the back of their win.

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