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Shutdown Corner

Why didn’t Seattle’s final snap of the first half beat the clock?

Jay Busbee
Shutdown Corner

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The last "play" of the first half. (Via @bubbaprog)

ATLANTA - Seattle was in the midst of an epic first-half collapse, with penalties and sacks and curious play calls combining for an absurd seven plays in the red zone with zero — literally — to show for it. Quarterback Russell Wilson had just taken a sack, and he was desperately trying to get off one last play, doing everything from rallying the troops to locating the ball like a kid on a manic Easter Egg hunt.

He pulled the Seahawks into formation and apparently got a snap off, if you believe the play clock shown above. TV viewers around the country wondered why an apparently live play was blown dead; a Seattle touchdown could have cut the deficit to 20-7 and given Atlanta something to think about in the locker room.

In the Georgia Dome, it was a different story. The game clock above the players' heads clearly ran down to zero. The referees blew their whistles, and both teams jogged off the field with nary a whisper of protest from the Seattle sideline. So what exactly happened?

[Also: Peyton Manning on losing end of another playoff upset]

First, Fox's clock is not the official game clock. This usually isn't a problem except for matters that can be measured in tenths of a second, like this one. So even though Wilson appeared to get the play off, the true game clock had expired. (Photo via 30fps.)

Second, even if the clock was correct, the Seattle line wasn't yet set. It would have been a penalty, and the clock would have run out ... that is, if the officials had made that call.

In short, Seattle and its fans can look everywhere else they like, but this debacle and an earlier stop on fourth-and-short deep in Atlanta territory were woes of the Seahawks' own making. Field goals in both situations would have made the game far more interesting.

-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-

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