The NFL’s replacement referees hit a new low on Monday night, as the Seattle Seahawks were awarded a controversial 14–12 victory over the Green Bay Packers — despite a game-deciding final play that had even the on-field officials ruling in a split-decision.
On 4th-and-10 from the Packers’ 24-yard-line with eight seconds left in a 12–7 game, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw a Hail Mary into the crowded end zone. From there, all bets were off — or, if Vegas’ numbers are accurate, all wagers were impacted to the tune of $150 million.
Seattle’s Golden Tate pushed off Green Bay’s Sam Shields, leapt into the air and tangled for the ball with Green Bay’s M.D. Jennings — who appeared to have possession on his way to the turf.
“It was pinned to my chest the whole time we were on the pile,” said Jennings. “I feel like I had the ball.”
Meanwhile, the 5'10", 202-pound Tate fought for the ball in the scrum.
“I was just trying to get possession of the ball,” said Tate. “The guy who was fighting me was strong. So I was trying to hold on to it until our guys pulled him off of me.
“I don’t know if they called touchdown, interception or incomplete. I didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t hear anything. I just tried to keep fighting for the ball.”
One official signaled touchback, indicating that Jennings had possession. The other ref ran in to overrule with the signal of touchdown, giving Tate the game-winning score with no time remaining.
After replay review, the call on the field was confirmed — causing pandemonium at CenturyLink Field in Seattle and sending shockwaves throughout the NFL’s fanbase across the country. There was so much commotion, the NFL issued an official statement in support of the call.
“When the players hit the ground in the end zone, the officials determined that both Tate and Jennings had possession of the ball. Under the rule for simultaneous catch, the ball belongs to Tate, the offensive player. The result of the play was a touchdown. …
“Referee Wayne Elliott determined that no indisputable visual evidence existed to overturn the call on the field, and as a result, the on-field ruling of touchdown stood. The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the video today and supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review.
“The result of the game is final.”
Obviously, the Seahawks agreed.
“From what I understood from the officials, it was a simultaneous catch. Tie goes to the runner. Good call,” said Seattle coach Pete Carroll.
But the stunned Packers could not have disagreed more.
“It was awful,” said Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “It was awful. That’s all I’m going to say about it.”