The first half of Super Bowl LV on Sunday night certainly was difficult for the Kansas City Chiefs.
It also probably was painful for the 49ers, who unquestionably wished last year’s Super Bowl was officiated in the same fashion.
The 49ers’ offense entered Super Bowl LIV believing that the Chiefs’ defensive backfield pushed the boundaries -- and then some -- with their penchant for holding receivers and tight ends.
The 49ers expected to draw a number of defensive holding and pass interference penalties.
Instead, referee Bill Vinovich’s crew kept their penalty flags tucked away.
The Chiefs’ defensive backfield, which led the league in penalties in 2019, were not called for any infractions against the 49ers. Kansas City was called for a total of just four penalties for 24 yards in the game.
The only penalty flag thrown on a 49ers pass play came in the closing seconds of the first half when tight end George Kittle was called for a controversial offensive pass interference call that nullified a 42-yard pass play. That call prevented the 49ers from an attempt at a 38-yard field goal, which could have given the 49ers a 13-10 lead at halftime.
The 49ers held a 20-10 at the midway point of the fourth quarter before the Chiefs rallied for 21 unanswered points for a 31-20 victory.
On Sunday, referee Carl Cheffers’ crew cracked down on the Chiefs in the first half, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers jumped out to a 21-6 lead.
Kansas City was called twice for defensive holding penalties (Bashaud Breeland and Charvarius Ward) and twice for pass interference (Breeland and Tyrann Mathieu). The four flags on the Chiefs defensive backs provided the Buccaneers with four first downs and 52 yards in penalties.
Breeland was called for another holding penalty, but it was declined on one of Tom Brady’s three first-half touchdown passes.