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Seahawks Can Pay Back the Pack for Fail Mary Game with a Win Over the 49ers Sunday

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COMMENTARY | Green Bay Packers fans won't remember the Fail Mary as the impetus behind the labor resolution with the NFL referees, or the moment Russell Wilson announced himself to the league.

No, Cheeseheads will remember it as the day they got robbed. Many of them will likely use less courteous language, even in mixed company - I expect there will be many four-letter words used in the re-telling of the Week 3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

It wasn't just the atrocious call on the field of the simultaneous catch, although since one ref singled interception and one singled touchdown, I'm not sure I know what the call on the field really was. Then there was the review that upheld the ruling on the field (whatever it was) even after replays made it obvious M.D. Jennings caught the ball and Golden Tate never had possession.

One of the most blatant offensive pass inference calls in the history of football was missed by a referee 10 feet from the play watching it with not-so-trained eyes - remember these were high school referees and lingerie league refs who were deemed too incompetent for an amateur league. Golden Tate shoved Sam Shields at least three or four yards in the end zone before leaping to make the catch.

The story has a couple potential endings at this point. We know that the Packers, left for dead at 1-2 by some and then by even more at 2-3, rallied to win the NFC North. If they go on to make a run in the playoffs, then Cheeseheads will tell the Golden Gate story with some joviality. It will be the lowest of lows for a team who ended up with a successful season. Green Bay, after all, has as good a chance as any to make it to and win the Super Bowl.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers downplayed the importance of the Seahawks win, keeping his focus on his own team and the task in front of him.

"I think Packers fans and I think sports fan in general know what the call should have been that night but we're 10-4 and we haven't let that affect us," Rodgers said Tuesday on his local radio show.

"Thankfully, we've overcome that and I think we're better because of it. The league owes us a debt of gratitude."

When asked if he's a big Seahawks fan this weekend, his response was a concise, "no."

But it could also be the turning point in the season for Seattle. They beat the reigning MVP and his formerly 15-1 team in prime time with a rookie quarterback and their defense was stifling. The Seahawks are now the hottest team in football and have a chance to also make a run, but here's the rub.

Seattle has a chance Sunday night to repay the Packers for the Immaculate Interception. Beat the San Francisco 49ers in the same stadium that they "won" the game against Green Bay and Seattle will help the Packers lock up a 2 seed and a first-round bye.

Lose, and Seattle will leave Green Bay having to survive a first round match-up with a team like Chicago or perhaps the Giants, a foreboding task for the Pack.

Had the call on the field way back in Week 3 been correct, the Packers win. It's not a case of cause and effect where there is any sort of resulting doubt. This wasn't a bad call in the third quarter or even late in the fourth. It was the last play of the game and if the Packers were given the interception as should have been the case, the game is over. Green bay wins.

All Green Bay would then have to do at this point in the season is win out and the 2 seed would be theirs. They wouldn't have to be sweating out a Seattle victory Sunday night to secure such a spot.

Particularly if the Packers go to San Francisco in the second round - a certainty if the Packers win in the first round - and lose, the number of expletives Packers fans use to tell the Fail Mary story will rise considerably.

San Francisco will have their "what if" questions as well, but they're more complicated. What if San Francisco could have beaten the Rams just once? But they couldn't and didn't. They can't blame an all-time bad, game-ending call for either game.

As Rodgers notes, Green Bay has won eight of nine and put itself in a position to make a playoff run despite long odds early in the season. They'll get a shot at San Francisco no matter what if they keep winning.

Packers players won't make excuses, but they're also hoping Seattle pays the karma forward and gives Green Bay a shot at redemption. More than that though, Seattle is playing for a chance to make peace with the football gods and set the universe as it rightfully should have been.

There's no telling what the ripple effects might have been if the Packers had won the Fail Mary game, but there's no question the statistical outcome, a loss, now has important implications for the playoff race.

For Green Bay to wipe the Fail Mary game off the slate, Seattle needs to win Sunday night. The rest will be up to the Packers to control their own destiny.

Peter Bukowski is a Wisconsin transplant living in New York and has been covering sports since 2007. He is an award-winning television and newspaper reporter. Follow him on Twitter @BukoTime

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