September 24, 2012

What Does The Packers-Seahawks Ending Mean?

     For those who weren't watching tonight's NFL game, let me recap the end of it for you.  Down 12-7 with 8 seconds left, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson threw a Hail Mary pass into a mess of players in the end zone.  As players were pulled away from the pile, Seattle WR Golden Tate and Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings were seen fighting for the football.  One referee called it an interception.  One called it a touchdown.  Somehow that meant the ruling was a touchdown.

The best picture I could find, but it's obvious Seattle doesn't have a player whose hands are close to that ball.

     But luckily, every NFL scoring play is reviewed on instant replay.  So what really happened on the play?  Jennings first caught the ball with Tate's hands about six inches underneath.  Then as the players came down, Tate also grabbed onto the ball and both men fought for control on the ground.  The commentary crew seemed convinced that Jennings earned the interception, as did I.  Yet the official ruling was, you guessed it, a touchdown.  The Packers players refused to line up for the extra point for about 10 minutes while the sideline reporters interviewed Wilson and Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, who both acted as if they believed it was a touchdown like any other.  It was quite a bizarre scene, and even though I hated what happened, I was glad to have seen it live.

     So now I'm trying to figure out what it all means.  A lot of people are going to blame this on the replacement referees, but I don't think that's what it was.  It was the regular officials, after all, who made the controversial Calvin Johnson no-catch call in 2010 (another play I had the pleasure of watching unfold in real time).  Referees of any kind make some bad calls.

     What I think this speaks more toward is the league's general favoritism towards offense.  Look at everything that happened in that play.  Tate wasn't flagged for an obvious pass interference.  When one ref signaled an interception and one signaled a touchdown, it was ruled a touchdown.  And then there was the atrocious call itself.  I don't know if the referees thought, consciously or subconsciously, that the tie goes to the receiver, like it does to the runner in baseball.  I don't know what more they wanted from Jennings, but he and the Packers got ripped off.

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