In Packers-Seahawks ending, the NFL’s officiating was just wrong

Photo via Sports Illustrated.

There really isn’t much more that can be said. The NFL’s reluctance to come to a settlement with its regular officials has finally cost a team a game. And it won’t even admit it.

The way the replacement officials handled the end of the Packers-Seahawks game last night was so egregious and wrong that, despite all of the league’s unwarranted need to “protect the shield,” I thought there was no way it would defend what it has to know is wrong.

Words like “controversial” and “bizarre” were and are being used to describe last night’s game. Stop it. The ending wasn’t controversial or bizarre. It was wrong. Flat out wrong.

When you’re wrong, you get fired or are at least held accountable for your actions.

The NFL released a statement this morning saying, “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.”

Sorry guys, but this wasn’t a simultaneous catch. Packers’ safety M.D. Jennings had the ball pinned to his chest as he hit the ground when Seahawks receiver Golden Tate attempted to wrestle it away.

Two officials converged on the play and both looked at each other before coming up with different calls. One official called it a touchdown, the other signaled the “stop clock” sign, which indicates a touchback.

Two things about that: the officials NEVER got together to make a final decision and the head referee NEVER declared what the actual call on the field was. This puts the replay official (who isn’t a replacement) in a bad spot, because he has to make a decision based solely on what the perceived call on the field was.

How is he supposed to overturn a call when he wasn’t given one to consider in the first place?

As a basketball official, I know firsthand that the first thing you do on a close play, particularly at the end of the game, is to meet with your fellow officials and discuss what they saw and make a decision based on that. That didn’t happen.

The league did admit one of its two missed calls on that play, however: “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.”

Ok, that’s a good start. It is an insult to our intelligence not to admit the call was wrong. But that’s par for the course for the No Fun League.

The replacement officials are doing the best they can, but they simply can’t keep up with the speed of the game.

They belong back in Football Championship Subdivision or Division II games where they came from and Ed Hochuli’s massive biceps belong on the field Thursday.

Anything less than that is a travesty in a league once called “America’s Game.”


Player reactions on Twitter after Monday’s game

Packers guard T.J. Lang.
Packers receiver Greg Jennings.
Packers linebacker Dezman Moses.
Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White.
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.