Packers-Seahawks: Replacement refs take NFL to all-time low

"Touchback," signals one. "Touchdown," signals the other. Apparently.
"Touchback," signals one. "Touchdown," signals the other. Apparently.
“Touchback,” signals one. “Touchdown,” signals the other. Apparently.

There’s nothing funny about it. The NFL’s replacement officials have officially cost a team a win that they rightfully earned.

“It was awful. That’s all I’m going to say about it.”

Aaron Rodgers was dumbfounded following the Packers’ 14-12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night football. While the Packers quarterback and head coach were able to keep their composure at the postgame press conference, fellow NFL players and fans of the sport reacted differently.

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King called the game “one of the great disgraces in NFL history.”

The play in question was, of course, the last play of the game. As Seattle faced a fourth-and-ten on the Packers’ 24 yard-line, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson kept the play alive with his legs and fired the ball towards the endzone.

Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate pushed Packers cornerback Sam Shields to the ground, but the ball hit safety M.D. Jennings right between the numbers. Jennings cradled the ball to his chest, while Tate tried to wrestle the ball from him.

But nonetheless, two officials walked over towards Jennings and Tate, who are wrestling for possession of the ball. One official waves his arms, suggesting the pass was intercepted and the game was over. The other official, who ignored Tate’s “Shields shove,” rushes to the scrum and signals “Touchdown.”

The play was reviewed, and the call stood as called. Touchdown.

Seahawks win.

The pass was clearly intercepted by Jennings. At one point during the fight for possession, Tate’s right arm is completely off the ball while Jennings maintains possession throughout. In reality, Tate had more possession of Jennings than he did of the, you know, football.

The NFL rule book states the procedure in which a simultaneous catch should be handled, “If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control.”

The latter part of the rule clearly suggests that Jennings should have been granted the interception. He gains control, before Tate fights for possession. So, there you have it. By NFL rules, Jennings intercepted the pass, and the Packers won the game.

Here’s a close-up of M.D. Jennings and Golden Tate fighting for possession of the ball:

M.D. Jennings and Golden Tate
M.D. Jennings and Golden Tate

Miami Heat star LeBron James sums it up quite simply. Following the replay on Monday Night, James tweeted, “C’mon man! That’s clearly an interception.”

James, along with the rest of the known world, was dumbfounded by the ruling. And the Packers’ offensive guards didn’t hold back their true feelings.

Packers guard T.J. Lang tweeted, “Got (expletive) by the refs. Embarrassing. Thanks NFL.”

At the time of Lang’s tweet late Monday night, he had 30,895 followers. His tweet was retweeted 33,114 times. I think it’s safe to say that football fans agreed with Lang’s assessment.

(Update: As of 12:26am CDT, Lang’s tweet is up to 55,437 retweets, and Lang is up to 66,481 followers.)

Packers right guard Josh Sitton echoed Lang, tweeting “That was (expetive). This is getting ridiculous! The NFL needs to get the refs back (before) we strike and they make no money!”

And then, Dolphins running back Reggie Bush kept it short and sweet, tweeting, “These refs gotta go. I’m sorry.”

With the ongoing dispute between the NFL and the regular crew of officials, something dramatic needed to occur if anything was going to change. Well, something happened. The Packers lost a games due to the officiating.

Now, blaming the officials is often a convenient excuse for playing poorly–but this was different. The replacement officials did their usual, below-average job through the better part of three quarters. But late in a close game, their gaffes in judgment were put under the microscope for the entire football world to see.

In the fourth quarter, the replacement refs flagged Erik Walden for a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty, wiping out a Jerron McMillian interception. Following this head-scratching call, one official called Sam Shields for one of the worst Pass Interference calls in recent memory.

But despite their best efforts to give the game to the Seahawks, the replacement refs had every opportunity to escape Monday Night’s game without a disastrous stain on the league. But unfortunately for the Packers, the NFL and themselves, the replacement officials butchered the ruling on the final play.

It’s been three weeks, and it’s simply gone too far.

Packers wide receiver couldn’t help but laugh at the situation. After his team was robbed of the win, Jennings tweeted, “Can’t even be upset anymore. All I can do is laugh. Laugh at the NFL for allowing America’s game to come this.”

This week’s Monday Night showdown may prove to be the “tipping point” of the ongoing labor dispute with NFL officials, but it may take the league a while longer to patch its relationship with the league’s money-maker’s–the players.

Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman voiced his frustration via Twitter, “This is what the NFL has come down to, (and) yet they tell you to respect the shield! Lol.”

Dockett and Jennings may have been able to find some humor in an extremely ugly situation, but Dockett is completely right. The NFL constantly preaches the importance of “protecting the shield” to its players, yet at the same time, they’re putting their players on the field with a makeshift group of officials who don’t understand the rules.

The officiating crew certainly wasn’t “protecting the shield” on the final play Monday night. In fact, Shields was shoved to the ground, and a victory was stolen from him and his teammates.


Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.


11 thoughts on “Packers-Seahawks: Replacement refs take NFL to all-time low

  1. Oooooh! I guess we all now know what they kept referring to as the Seahawks’ 12th man. Stupid me, I thought they were referring to their stadium fans, the ones in the seats!

  2. She wants. It Al, it took less than 5 minutes for me to find the rule book, go to page 2, article 5 and read the same rule. HOW can that shot (great job BTW) be ignored relative to the rule? I am stunned.

  3. I was coached to never let an opponent be close enough in score to let the officials give the game away. We need more points, score earlier and more often.

    It $uck$ but time to move on to the next game.

    Word to the bettor’s out here – don’t. With hundres of millions bet on Monday night football – how hard is it to buy the officials. Maybe stock in MS or $100,000 per game by the mob. Just a few points here and there. Just to see these guys through the winter when the regular officials return?????

    Jus $aying!

  4. So the refs came back and said……after further review the runner did not touch second base, so touchdown Celtics!

  5. Well I see one of two resolutions to the issues.

    1) An apology issued by the league to the Packers for an errant call at the end of the game.

    No change or anything just an official “We’re sorry.”


    2) It was aggregeous misconduct including not having the referee (white hat) make a ruling before he went under the visor. He did not check and confer with the to black hats as to why they are ruling two different things.

    If so then Rule 17 section 2 could be put in effect by Goddell. No team can ask for it he has to decide on his own to use it. If so he can rule to change the call at the end of the game(Packers win) or even have the game replayed from a different point. I.E. redo the 4th down play at a latter time and date.

  6. As my moniker indicates, I have been watching the NFL and the Packers since 1961. Maybe 51 seasons is enough because now, I have seen everything. I can actually remember when the NFL was a great league. Oh well, nothing last forever. How is the NHL lockout going?
    Thanks, since ’61

  7. One ref called it touchback, one touchdown. How or who determined it was TD? Does one ref supercede the other?

    1. In this case the referee and/or the replay official(s) should be able to override the call on the field. As far as I could tell during the melee after the play neither official who made the call was the referee. The referree is the captain of the field crew so to speak, but it doesn’t matter anymore.

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