There’s controversy, then there’s NFL Monday Night Football week 3, 2012.
The Green Bay Packers lined-up against the Seattle Seahawks in front of a deafening Seattle crowd. On fourth and 10 and just eight seconds remaining on the clock, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson launched a deep hail mary pass into the end zone where receivers Golden Tate and Charly Martin faced a bunch of Packers defenders.
Here’s where the fiasco happened.
Tate pushed off Green Bay’s Sam Shields in clear, CLEAR sight of the incompetent – correction – replacement referees: no interference call. This comes at a point where yellow flags are consistently being thrown.
With Shields out of the way, Tate proceeds on his route to the end zone.
Packers safety Melvin Delanie “M.D.” Jennings rises and intercepts the Wilson throw, bringing the football against his chest with both hands as Tate has one arm on the ball. The pack lands with the two wrestling for possession.
Cue the comedy tape.
Two referees run over to the players still piled up on the turf – one calls a touchdown the other signals a touchback.
But wait there’s more.
The referees on the ground along with the man (league official) upstairs reviewed the footage to come to a decision that would define the game. Referee number 26 who went up touchdown called it as a simultaneous catch – cue incorrect buzzer sound.
A simultaneous catch is defined as:
If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player controls first and an opponent subsequently gains join control. If the ball is muffed after simultaneous touching by two such players, all the players of the passing team become eligible to catch the ball.
Thus I ask this: How can the men in stripes on the field rule this anything other than a Jennings interception?
The replacement referees got it wrong. The league’s man in the booth got it wrong. The Packers got robbed of a win and the Seahawks walked away with a come from behind victory at home.
In the end, the touchdown was given and after several minutes, Seattle kicked the field goal and gained the extra point.
Monday Night Football commentator and 2002 Super Bowl XXXVII winning head coach John Gruden was appalled by the decision and non-decisions on the field.
“This has put a bad taste in my mouth,” Gruden said, adding that what happened at the end of the game was “tragic” and “comical.”
Coach Gruden didn’t stop there.
“Those are two of the worst calls at an end of a football game that I can remember,” Gruden said.
To say Twitter exploded would be an severe understatement.
ESPN’s Michael Wilbon tweeted his thoughts:
“What robbery…what a fraud the NFL just perpetrated on the Green Bay Packers…”
Wilbon’s colleague Matthew Berry shared his opinion:
“Did the ref have Golden Tate in fantasy? #itsnotoutofthequestion.”
Rich Eisen’s thinking was on the same path as many fans:
“We wondered when the replacement refs would cost a team a game. I believe we just saw one.”
In what was a bad round for the replacement referees, it was much more embarrassing for the league office and its chief, Roger Goodell.
Is what occurred on the final play in Seattle the impetus to break the lock out between the NFL and the NFL Referees Association?
Back to Twitter, Sigmund Bloom, lead NFL writer for Bleacher Report proposed a fair deal to Mr. Goodell:
“If NFL admits defeat, regular refs return this wk, all is forgiven, forgotten. If NFL tries to downplay, image meltdown accelerates.”
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King mentioned recently that the NFL and the regular officials are far apart, however after this week and particularly the ending to the Packers-Seahawks game, Goodell must … MUST … get a deal down quickly.