By way of one of the most bizarre calls that you'll ever see in an NFL game, the Seattle Seahawks have defeated the Green Bay Packers, 14-12, on "Monday Night Football."
With the Seahawks trailing 12-7 and down to their final play, quarterback Russell Wilson heaved a desperation pass toward the end zone. Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings rose highest and seemed secure the ball but Seahawks receiver Golden Tate managed to get his hands around the ball as well. One referee raised his arms to signal touchdown while another official waved his arms, seemingly signaling a touchback (by way of an interception). After review, one of the initial calls on the field was upheld... SEAHAWKS TOUCHDOWN!
"This is the most bizarre sequence you'll ever see at the end of the game," ESPN play-by-play commentator Mike Tirico marveled.
Of course, things only got stranger as the Packers left the field only to have to return in order for the Seahawks to kick the necessary extra point. In between the touchdown and the extra point, Seattle coach Pete Carroll conducted his postgame interview.
Carroll's sideline remarks promise to be just the beginning of a lot of conversation on this controversial play.
Along with just about everyone discussing the game on Twitter, Tirico and his ESPN broadcast partner Jon Gruden were both convinced the replacement officials ruled incorrectly on the play, also noting that they missed what appeared to be offensive pass interference by Tate.
"Golden Tate gets away with one of the most blatant offensive pass interference calls I've ever seen. M.D. Jennings intercepts the pass. And Tate's walking out of here as the player of the game," Gruden said in disbelief as the surreal scene unfolded in front him in Seattle. "Unbelievable."
Not surprisingly, Packers coach Mike McCarthy felt the same way.
“I was told M.D. Jennings intercepted the ball,” McCarthy told reporters after the game, via Michael David Smith at ProFootballTalk. “I’ve never seen anything like that in all my years in football.”
The controversial finish to the Week 3 finale, capped a tumultuous stretch for the overmatched replacement officials deployed as the labor dispute between the NFL and the regular officials drags on. From Patriots coach Bill Belichick accosting an official in the aftermath of his team's loss to the Ravens and the extra timeouts awarded the San Francisco 49ers to this surreal scene in Seattle, officiating is the inescapable story of the 2012 NFL season.
"From what I understood from the officials it was a simultaneous catch. Tie goes to the runner. Good call," said Carroll after the game, per The Associated Press, making him perhaps the last person still impressed with the job the replacements are doing while the NFL locks out their more experienced and prepared counterparts.
UPDATE: The NFL issued a statement on the ending of the Seahawks-Packers game on Monday night, defending the officials' decision to not overturn the call.
Referee Wayne Elliott determined that no indisputable visual evidence existed to overturn the call on the field, and as a result, the on-field ruling of touchdown stood.
The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the video today and supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review.
The result of the game is final.
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