These last 24 hours have been so surreal, I don’t think my adrenaline has stopped pumping at full blast since before kickoff. Time seemed to slow down as I waited in intense anticipation for the Green Bay Packers to take on the Seattle Seahawks in what I figured to be a great football game.
Could I have been more wrong?
It started off with Aaron Rodgers and his offensive line giving up eight sacks in the first half. Eight! Then, the previously contained passing game of Russell Wilson fired off a long touchdown, with errors in the secondary. I was so livid, I could have screamed bloody murder. The game plan for the offense was all wrong, and the defense was briefly exposed by a rookie quarterback.
But I persevered and stayed to watch the second half. Fortunately, Mike McCarthy finally realized the error of his ways and made offensive adjustments that started to get the chains moving. Things were looking up.
And then it all came crashing down with the officiating. I don’t need to go into the details, because I’m sure we’ve all read about as much as we’re capable of today.
Yet, even after the “Fail Mary,” things continued to get my blood boiling. Watching the Packers have to trot back out as slaughtered lambs to play the extra point. Hearing Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson talk about how well they performed at the end to get the win. Seeing the response by the NFL in support of the final touchdown call.
The icing on the cake, though, goes to all those Packers fans and Packers haters who seem to think the Packers should have won despite the officiating.
I actually visited this issue after the Packers-Cardinals 2009 playoff game, when missed calls seem to cost Green Bay the overtime win. Here’s a little bit of what I said:
Now let me get this out of the way before I continue: I make no excuses for the Green Bay Packers and the way they played this game. Each team earned their score going into overtime, and if the Packers would have secured the ball better in the first quarter and played better on defense, then perhaps they wouldn’t have been in that situation.
And if Aaron Rodgers would have connected with Greg Jennings on first down, then the proceeding downs wouldn’t have even been played.
In no way does officiating (or the lack thereof) determine the outcome of a game.
But what it does do—and here is the key—is it takes away from the game’s value and each team’s chances.
Now, I still stand behind what I said. The Packers had a chance to win against Arizona, and they blew it. However, I also defend my concluding opinion that bad officiating “takes away chances for a team to earn its own fate, whether it be good or bad.”
Because, in reality, it’s impossible to know how any single call changes a game. Unless you have a way to navigate the multiverse, you’ll never know what might have been. If a team gets a questionable pass interference call to set up good field position and a first down, there’s no guarantee the offense will score. They might fumble on the next handoff. Likewise, if a referee misses a holding call on 3rd-and-12, there’s still a chance the offense could still have converted on 3rd-and-22.
But we’re not talking about a bad call somewhere in the third quarter. This wasn’t a favorable flag that gave the offense a brand new set of downs. “Not this,” writes Matt Bowen on the subject. “Nope. This is bad football.”
It was the last play of the game. It was the play that would decide the winner and loser. At this point, the officiating was no longer just a factor, it was the deciding factor. Although subtle to some, there is a big difference between referees that affect the outcome of the game and ones that decide the outcome of the game.
The crew on Monday night decided the game. Plain and simple.
Nevertheless, people cling to the notion that the Packers could have put themselves in a better position to still win. Are they right? Sure. Does that matter in this case? Absolutely not.
You see, this was a tale of two halves. In the first half, Rodgers and the offense had no rhythm, were continually beaten at the line, and had zero points to show for their efforts. The defense, while it played well and stopped Marshawn Lynch, still gave up a touchdown.
Now, the second half? We got a whole different ballgame. Not only did the Packers consistently drive it down the field, but they were able to put up three scores in the process. (And never did they start a drive beyond their 20 yard line.) They also won the time of possession (18:39 to 11:21), stopped three of Seattle’s drives, and gave up absolutely no points until the final play (if that even counts).
You can’t just throw out the second half and say they should have done better. Great teams find ways to win, even in the face of adversity. Even after a bad first half of play. It’s not just up to the offense, or the defense, or special teams. They all work together to determine their fate.
The Packers did what they needed to do to win. Was it pretty? No. Was it the best they’ve played? No. But it was enough to win. They MADE that interception at the end to seal the game, just like they did against the Philadelphia Eagles in their 2010 Super Bowl run. They EARNED a victory.
The Packers did not face adversity in the officiating, they faced highway robbery, and there’s no other way to spin it.——————Follow @ChadToporski