'Did Joe Mixon fumble?' is the perfect fake controversy to hold us over until the Super Bowl
If you thought we'd have a post-NFL-Conference-Championship-Sunday Monday devoid of any controversy, you completely forgot how the internet works.
Last week, the fake-outrage debate du jour was about the NFL overtime rules, and how they simply HAVE to be changed so that both offenses get a chance to touch the ball. Thanks to the Cincinnati Bengals defense, we're not having that discussion again this week. Somehow, despite losing the overtime coin toss, the Bengals were able to beat the Kansas City Chiefs to reach the Super Bowl.
However, some on social media are wondering if the Chiefs should have gotten the ball back for a second possession. One play before Joe Burrow took a knee on the right hash to set up Evan McPherson's game-winner, Bengals running back Joe Mixon picked up 15 clutch yards on a run off the left tackle that all but sealed the deal. A closer look at the end of the run, though, shows the Mixon might not have been touched down before he tossed the ball backwards in celebration, a ball the Chiefs made a "clear recovery" on per the rules:
Another view from the end zone:
Not exactly an open-and-shut case here, but one that certainly makes you go "hmmmm....," especially if you're a Chiefs fan. This also explains what Andy Reid and the officials were talking about, something Jim Nantz and Tony Romo didn't do a great job of (they thought Reid was looking for an illegal formation call). Reid wanted them to review a potential Mixon fumble, a request they shot down, according to Reid:
If Mixon is being ruled down by contact here, the most recent contact comes from No. 22, Juan Thornhill. That was around the 20-yard line and Mixon ends up near the 13-yard line, which is an extra seven yards after contact, which would imply he likely was not down by contact. That's why the officials likely went with the "gave himself up" answer, making it not reviewable. It's a confusing play that you can make a lot of arguments and assumptions about, which, in fairness, is a nightmarish situation for the officials.
The good news for Bengals fans and the bad news for Chiefs fans is that Zapruder-ing the hell out of this video is not going to change the outcome of the 2022 AFC Championship. This will only serve as one of the many what-ifs from Sunday's game for Kansas City. What if Mixon fumbled, what if Tyreek Hill scores at the end of the first half, what if the Chiefs offense didn't look like hot garbage for the entire second half, etc. etc. Any time there are that many what-ifs, you probably didn't deserve to win anyway.