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NFL Statement Regarding the Controversial End of Monday Night’s Game

September 25, 2012 • Ben Heck • Drama, NFC, Photos

It’s all over the news, and not just ESPN and NFL Network. The National Football League and its replacement officials have hit rock bottom after the to last night’s Packers vs. Seahawks primetime game.

Trailing 12-7, Seattle’s rookie quarterback Russell Wilson threw up a desperation hail mary as time expired, which appeared to be intercepted by Green Bay’s safety M.D. Jennings. The back judge ran over and signaled timeout, which would mean he’s signaling a GB interception and touchback. However, the side judge signaled for a touchdown.
There was no conference between officials and it was ruled a Seattle touchdown, though there was no official call coming from the referee himself. After the call, Green Bay ran off the field in disgust after seeing the replay reveal that Jennings did, in fact, have the ball cradled against his body while Seattle’s Golden Tate merely had two hands barely on the football.
The play was reviewed but referee Wayne Elliot apparently didn’t find that anything was indisputable and the play stood as called. It took about 10 minutes for the Packers to get 11 guys back out of the locker room and onto the field to attempt the extra point.
If you were to ask my opinion on the ending, I must say that this was the most embarrassing ending to any NFL game I have ever seen. It felt as though you were watching a high school game. And the backlashing from Packer players, and other NFL players in general, on Twitter was severe last night.
As expected, Aaron Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy weren’t too happy during their post-game press conferences. But I must give credit to Greg Jennings and a couple of other Packer players who were very classy following the defeat and didn’t blame officials for the loss. That had to have been very tough after watching that unfold from the sidelines.
Here’s the official statement the League came out with today, as they stated that the Seattle win will not be overturned after investigating further (they did admit that the officials missed a PI call on Tate that would have ended the game though):

In Monday’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, Seattle faced a 4th-and-10 from the Green Bay 24 with eight seconds remaining in the game.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a pass into the end zone. Several players, including Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate and Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings, jumped into the air in an attempt to catch the ball.

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.

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.

Replay Official Howard Slavin stopped the game for an instant replay review. The aspects of the play that were reviewable included if the ball hit the ground and who had possession of the ball. In the end zone, a ruling of a simultaneous catch is reviewable. That is not the case in the field of play, only in the end zone.

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.

Applicable rules to the play are as follows:

A player (or players) jumping in the air has not legally gained possession of the ball until he satisfies the elements of a catch listed here.

Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3 of the NFL Rule Book defines a catch: 
A forward pass is complete (by the offense) or intercepted (by the defense) if a player, who is inbounds:

(a) secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground; and

(b) touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands; and

(c) maintains control of the ball long enough, after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, to enable him to perform any act common to the game (i.e., maintaining control long enough to pitch it, pass it, advance with it, or avoid or ward off an opponent, etc.).

When a player (or players) is going to the ground in the attempt to catch a pass, Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 1 states:

Player Going to the Ground. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.

Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 5 states:

Simultaneous Catch. 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. If the ball is muffed after simultaneous touching by two such players, all the players of the passing team become eligible to catch the loose ball.

So the Seattle (2-1) victory will stand and the Packers will remain 1-2. The internet, mostly social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, have taken the replacement officials’ mistakes pretty hard. Here are a couple of things I have come across so far:

 

Players have been all over Twitter with this one. Do you think commish Goodell will realize how bad it has gotten and do everything he can to get the real guys back out there? Personally I don’t think we’re even close to the end, which is really scary. You know it’s bad when bandwagon and fair weather fans even realize it’s getting ugly out there.

Note: I do not own the above images or videos. No copyright infringement intended.

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