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Shutdown Corner

Seahawks win the strangest game in their history on the call that will define replacement refs

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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This play may bring the real refs back, but that's small consolation to the Packers. (AP)

SEATTLE -- How weird was it?

The Seattle Seahawks' 14-12 victory over the Green Bay Packers was so weird, the ... uh ... winning team was in the locker room with their pads off when they were told to go back on the field and kick the NFL-mandated extra point.

The Seattle Seahawks' 14-12 victory over the Green Bay Packers was so weird, a rookie third-round quarterback who was 5 of 10 for 69 yards through three quarters managed to make himself a hero with no chances left on the board.

The Seattle Seahawks' 14-12 victory over the Green Bay Packers was so weird, one receiver told another to take a lie detector test.

[Michael Silver: The worst call in NFL history? | Photos]

And the Seattle Seahawks' 14-12 victory over the Green Bay Packers was so weird, there were almost more penalties than points -- and a replacement crew managed to outdo all other replacement crews when it came to questionable, buffoonish, and outright dastardly calls on both sides.

A game that started with eight Seahawks sacks in the first half turned into an entirely different contest when all was said and done. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn't sacked once in the second half, as the Packers went to a more multiple series of tight end sets and quick passes. Meanwhile, Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson didn't attempt a single pass in the third quarter, and the Packers came within one point, 7-6, as the fourth quarter began.

And that's when all hell broke loose. With 8:53 left in the game, Packers running back Cedric Benson put the Pack ahead, 12-7 with a 1-yard touchdown run. The Seahawks then engineered a drive that took them down to Green Bay's 7-yard line, but had to turn the ball over on downs when receiver Golden Tate couldn't bring in a pass in the end zone. But Seattle's defense held firm as it had through most of the day, the Seahawks got the ball back with 46 seconds left, and they had 46 yards to go.

After a 22-yard pass to receiver Sidney Rice, Wilson threw three straight incompletions, and it all came down to fourth down. Wilson ran around for a while and targeted a scrum waiting for the jump ball in the end zone. Packers safety M.D. Jennings appeared to grab the ball in the air and kept control even after Tate fought him for it. Nobody seemed to see that Tate pushed defensive back Sam Shields out of the way in a blatant example of offensive pass interference.

[Dan Wetzel: Roger Goodell needs to immediately clean up officiating mess]

However ... well, we'll let head official Wayne Elliott explain.

"The ruling on the final play was a simultaneous catch," he told the game's pool reporters. "Reviewed by replay. Play stands. [A catch by] both players goes to the offense."

In a murderous bit of irony, the officiating supervisor was Phil Luckett, the man who decided that New York Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde's helmet crossing the plane of the end zone was an acceptable alternative to the ball doing so in a 32-31 win over the Seahawks in 1998. The Seattle loss kept Seattle out of the playoffs, led to the firing of then-head coach Dennis Erickson, and led to the re-instatement of instant replay.

It was Luckett who monitored the officiating throughout this game.

[Related: Seattle-Green Bay TD call could have altered $250 million in bets]

"We both had it," Tate said when he was asked whether he caught the ball. "I don't know what the rule is, but I think the tie goes to the receiver. I ran my route on the back side, Wilson came back and wanted to give me one more chance after I dropped the first one, and I just competed. I've practiced catching balls at the highest point, and thankfully, I came down with it."

And then, after all that, as several Seahawks players were taking their shoulder pads off in the locker room, they were told by coaches and managers that they had to go out and kick that league-mandated point after touchdown. Receiver Sidney Rice went out in his football pants, and undershirt, and no shoes. Guard John Moffit had to throw his pads back on before he even knew what was happening.

"It was required by league rule," Luckett said of the PAT. "The point after touchdown is an extension of the game, so we have to finish the game. A touchdown on the last play, you have to do the extra point, in regulation."

Understandably, the Packers had a very different response to the concept of fair and correct officiating.

"Fine me and use the money to pay the regular refs," Green Bay guard T.J. Lang said on his Twitter account after posting some rather NSFW stuff about his take on the game.

"Come on @NFL this [bleep] is getting out of Control. Caused us a DAMN game. Horrible!" Packers tight end Jermichael Finley tweeted.

[More: Packer T.J. Lang's Twitter explosion could be most re-tweeted Tweet of all time]

And this, from the Twitter account of Packers guard Josh Sitton "Golden Tate is full of [bleep] too. Saying he clearly caught that is embarrassing! [Bleeping] jokers!"

Rodgers, who could be given full credit for even remembering what happened after the way he was beaten up in the first half, was as disgusted as he could possibly be.

"I saw [Yahoo's] Mike Silver on the field, and nobody had any idea of what was going on," Rodgers said after the game.  "From my view, I saw the referee in the back [of the end zone] waving his arms, which means that he is calling a touchback. No idea how the other [official] said touchdown, Golden Tate. On the replay, [Tate] took his arm off the ball that he may or may not have had, and then they reviewed it, and it was upheld ... just look at the replay and then the fact that it was reviewed.

"It's awful. That's all I'm going to say about that."

Packers receiver Greg Jennings had more to say. "If you asked Golden Tate to take a lie detector test, and ask him did he catch that ball or did M.D. Jennings catch the ball, M.D. caught that. It was clear as day -- at least that's what my eyes saw."

Finally, Jennings mustered up as much sarcasm as he possibly could, and said, "The officials did a great job today."

M.D. Jennings, the man who certainly appeared to come down with the ball, simply said that he had possession of the ball all the way down, that Tate was fighting for the ball as he had possession, and that he never lost possession to Tate. All of these things appear to be correct based on a cursory review of the replays. That Wayne Elliott's crew couldn't figure it out even after watching the tape? Well, let's just say that we've all been wondering what would happen if the officials swing a game in which the wrong team won, and we may very possibly have that scenario in hand at this time.

Even Seattle head coach Pete Carroll, the man who most benefitted from the final call, and certainly appeared to be the most happy about it, said after the game that the real officials need to come back.

[Related: Lingerie Football League commissioner mocks NFL for low officiating standards]

"It's time for it to be over," he said. "It's time for this to be over. My hat's off to those officials; they're doing everything they can as well as they can. They're working their tails off. It demonstrates how difficult it is. It's a very, very complicated process to handle those games and make those decisions. To keep the flow of the game alive and all that, it's time for it to be over.

"The league deserves it. Everybody deserves it."

The Packers would not likely agree with anything else that came out of Carroll's mouth after the game, but they'd certainly be on board with that.

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