Posted 09/25/2012 at 03:28 PM
The wrong call was certainly made in the final play of the Monday night Packers/Seahawks game but in real speed the play was close enough that there was room to interpret it as simultaneous possession. Golden Tate did get his hand on the ball at the same time that M.D. Jennings had established possession. While Jennings clearly had ‘more’ control of the ball as well as two hands clearly on the ball while Tate at times had just one, none of that is relevant in the language of the simultaneous possession rule. While it was comical to see the two officials making different calls, that is not such an uncommon thing in the NFL, replacement officials or not. The procedure to determine the correct call can be problematic however.
The application of the rules really is not the issue here, rather the rules in general. The officials have been in over their heads but all officials have been taught to rule in favor of a touchdown on a close play because ‘all scoring plays are reviewed’. We learned this week that all scoring plays are not actually reviewed; field goals that go above the uprights are not reviewed as the Patriots found out on Sunday night. While all touchdown plays may be reviewed there are great restrictions and limitations on what can be changed within a review. Simultaneous possession is not something that can be changed, so the application of the rules was correct in the review of the final touchdown play.
While it was certainly a tough loss for the Packers, the loss can’t be pinned on that one play. Green Bay scored 12 points in the game, not many NFL teams win with just 12 points. Green Bay’s only touchdown drive also came with the benefit of a terrible call as the pass interference call on Kam Chancellor on a critical 3rd down play was clearly wrong. Green Bay has to punt and would have remained down 7-6 without that call. The Packers also were gifted a huge first down on replay review on the Aaron Rodgers scramble near the goal line, also on a critical 3rd down play later on that drive. Whether he got there or not (debatable) is not the issue, in the language and process of the rules, the ruling on the field should not have been overturned on that play. Green Bay has to kick a field goal to go up 9-7 and then likely loses by a late Seattle field goal in that scenario.
The Packers were the victim of a bad pass interference call as well as Sam Shields was hit with a 32-yard penalty on the next Seattle drive, but Shields did have his left hand pulling on the jersey of Sidney Rice, it didn’t impact the play and Rice got away with a more severe push off, but from the vantage point of the official making the call it was more defensible than the call on Chancellor. Don’t forget that two consecutive questionable holding penalties went against the Seahawks right before that play making the net gain just 12 yards and that the Seahawks didn’t end up scoring on that drive anyway.
The league wants to take as much subjectivity away from the officials as they can with the many complicated rules and circumstances when replay review is eligible and not-eligible. What the league needs is just some common sense rules, if a play goes up for review, get the call right, don’t make it right only if it is within the parameters of the complicated restrictions that it seems most officials, replacement or otherwise, most coaches, and all commentators seem to have trouble getting a firm grasp on.