The Seahawks took on the Packers in last night’s Monday Night Football matchup, and many fans expected the Packers to cruise to the victory. Mike Perry of Sportsbook.ag, a large sports betting establishment in Las Vegas, said that up to 85% of the bets for last night’s game were in favor of the Packers winning. According to the footage, the Packers did earn the victory. However, the NFL replacement refs gave the game to the Seahawks on what was arguably the worst call ever made in NFL history. With eight seconds left in the game, Seattle faced a 4th-and-10 from the Packers 24, so the Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson was forced to throw a Hail Mary. The refs ruled that Golden Tate caught the game-winning touchdown when video proves that it was, in fact, a game-winning interception by M.D. Jennings. This gave the Seahawks the controversial 14-12 victory.
Watch the play here:
To be fair, the Seahawks were playing excellent defense in the first half of the game and were able to sack Aaron Rodgers eight times. However, in this low-scoring game, there were several calls near the end of the game that really impacted the result negatively. Many of the calls seemed to go the Seahawks’ way and should’ve been called differently, according to the replays. There was also an immense amount of confusion among the refs themselves at the end of the game. One ref called a touchdown and one called a touchback (meaning that the Packers would win), and this uncertainty shows the replacement refs’ complete ignorance and incompetence in situations like this. The calls were so wrong that it almost calls for speculation as to if the Seahawks actually paid off the replacement refs. The replacement refs have already had a history with inappropriate alliances with NFL teams this season. Brian Stropolo, a replacement ref, was assigned to the Saints-Panthers game last Sunday and was pulled from the assignment because of his open allegiance as a Saints fan.
The coaches, players, and fans have all shown disapproval of the newly appointed replacement refs, since the normal refs are currently in a labor dispute with the league. Many of these refs have very little or no officiating experience at even the college level and, honestly, weren’t good or qualified enough to ref at the college level. These refs only have experience at the high school level and maybe at the Division III college level, which is simply just insufficient for NFL games. The replacement refs have been accused of calling too many penalties, calling the wrong penalties, taking longer to “choose” the penalty, and even something as simple as forgetting the announce the number of the player that the penalty is on. Drew Brees, who has always been known for his class and integrity, said about the replacement refs, “You know, I think it’s getting to a point where it’s pretty horrendous and it’s an embarrassment to the league and the way it’s being conducted.”
On the final play of the game, the refs called a touchdown on the field, but reviewed it shortly after. Even after review, the refs said the ruling was correct, even though the video clearly proves that Jennings had and retained possession of the ball and Tate didn’t. Rodgers said in the post-game press conference, “It was awful. Just look at the replay. And then the fact that it was reviewed, it was awful. That’s all I’m going to say about it.” Even Tate was unsure if he caught the ball before Jennings. “I think so. … Oh, well maybe he did. But I took it from him,” Tate said. When Tate and Jennings hit the ground after the catch, the officials ruled that it was a “simultaneous catch,” which is described below:
- Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 5 states:
Simultaneous Catch. 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 gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint 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 loose ball.
The officials claimed that both Tate and Jennings caught the ball and retained it, and, therefore, the offensive player, Tate, had to be rewarded with the ball, which means it would be a touchdown. The NFL backed up the officials’ decision to call the play a “simultaneous catch.” However, in the replays, it is blatantly obvious that Tate didn’t even catch it. He had an arm on it, but he didn’t have possession of the ball, so the simultaneous catch argument is completely irrelevant. Even if he had gained possession of the ball at some point, Tate said himself that he wasn’t sure when he caught the ball and that he “took the ball from him [Jennings],” meaning the call of “simultaneous catch” is still wrong no matter what.
The NFL released a statement earlier today about how the league will not overturn the ruling by the officials. However, the league points out another call that the replacement refs missed at the end of the game. “While the ball is in the air, Tate can be seen shoving Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields to the ground. This should have been a penalty for offensive pass interference, which would have ended the game. It was not called and is not reviewable in instant replay.” The league admitted to the fact that deciding who caught the ball and who had possession is, in reality, irrelevant, because Tate committed a penalty before the catch even happened. His offensive pass interference, that should have been penalized, would have ended the play and, therefore, the game. The replacement refs messed up on every single aspect of reviewing and calling this play, which is shameful and gives the NFL a bad image.
With all of this evidence going against the replacements refs’ ability to officiate a game properly in the NFL, the league needs to reach an agreement with the normals refs immediately. Based on the severity of these missed calls, money should not even be an issue anymore. Bringing back the normal refs is too important to the image of preservation of the NFL. Rodgers spoke out today about the importance of ending the labor dispute with the normal refs. “NFL obviously cares more about saving some money than having the integrity of the game diminished a little bit,” Rodgers said. The poor decision-making of the replacement refs decided this game and gave the Seahawks the win. The result of such a mistake not only affects the Seahawks and the Packers, but it also affects all of the NFC North and the NFC West, and, honestly, the entire NFC. The result of this game could have serious playoff implications later on in the season, because it could affect which teams make the playoffs. It also affects how fans view the league and their future viewing of games. Because of this horrible decision, the NFL’s popularity could potentially be severely hurt. We’ll see if the NFL can recover from this mess.