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"NFL Rigged" Trends on Social Media Following 2022 AFC Championship Game

Allison DeGrushe - Author
By

Jan. 30 2023, Published 1:22 p.m. ET

Super Bowl LVII is around the corner, but are we sure anyone will tune in?

Following the disastrous AFC and NFC championship matchups, thousands of fans took to social media to point out the very questionable officiating in both games, especially the AFC championship. In case you missed it, the game was really close; however, the refs called some extremely weak penalties on the Bengals, resulting in their 23-20 loss.

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Since the AFC championship game's heartbreaking conclusion, #NFLRigged has been trending on Twitter. With over 45,000 responses, several NFL fans are currently ripping apart the officials and the league, feeling as if they both wanted Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs to play in the Super Bowl over Joe Burrow and the Bengals.

So, are NFL games actually rigged? Let's investigate.

nfl rigged trending on twitter
Source: Twitter
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So, are NFL games rigged?

Although one could argue that NFL games aren't rigged, many fans have plenty of substantial evidence that the officials called multiple soft penalties and missed several pivotal calls during the AFC championship on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023.

For one, the officials gave the Chiefs a do-over early in the fourth quarter.

With the score still tied 20-20, Patrick Mahomes threw an incomplete pass on second down and forced his team into a third-and-nine play. Because it was incomplete, the game clock was not supposed to run; however, it continued to run and no one seemed to notice. The Chiefs ran an unsuccessful third-down play, and the Bengals appeared to be in a good position, but officials blew the play dead. After resetting the clock, the Chiefs got a second chance at a third-down conversion.

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During the Chiefs second third-down opportunity, Bengals defensive lineman B.J. Hill came up big and sacked the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback; however, cornerback Eli Apple was penalized for defensive holding, which granted the Chiefs a new set of downs. Luckily, the Bengals made many crucial stops and forced a punt.

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With less than five minutes left in the game, Bengals defensive back Mike Hilton was called for pass interference. CBS rules analyst Gene Steratore said it shouldn't have drawn a penalty, stating during the broadcast, "it's not a big foul to me in my opinion, guys. There's some movement there. But that's not a big hook and turn in my opinion."

On the other hand, fans are also claiming the officials turned a blind eye to obvious penalties involving the Chiefs — defensive end Frank Clark wasn't penalized for pushing Joe Burrow to the ground after he had already fired a pass. Also, offensive tackle Orlando Brown blatantly held Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson at the end of the game, but no flag was thrown.

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#NFLRigged continues to trend on social media.

Following the game, Bengals fans and non-Bengals fans took to Twitter and expressed anger over the officiating.

"Bengals got robbed tonight, worst officiated game I've ever seen," one fan said. "The refs missed 3 holds on the KC o-line before making that horrible call to put the Chiefs in field goal range. Disgusted, Bengals didn't deserve this. #nflrigged." Another wrote, "#NFLRigged not a Bengals fan, and they were robbed. Frustrating to watch as a football fan. The refs did not call a fair game."

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A third person added, "It's pretty bad when so many people are tweeting about @NFL with the #NFLRigged! People from across the fan spectrum are calling it rigged, and it was. The referee crew was clearly in it for the Chiefs. Just sad another reason to stop watching the NFL anymore until Goodell is gone."

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"The 4th quarter was one of worst officiated quarters ever, the only proof you need that #NFLRigged," a fourth fan tweeted. "The refs giving Kansas City a second chance on 3rd down. I mean, what in the f--k? It needs investigating #CINvsKC."

A fifth person commented, "It's not just Bengals fans, it's anyone that isn't a Chiefs fan that [is] questioning the integrity of the NFL after the AFC championship. Even former players such as JJ Watt, Danny Woodhead, and others. Even Steelers fans calling out the blatant bias against Bengals #NFLrigged."

What do you think? Is the NFL rigged, or was the game just poorly officiated?

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