A picture says a thousand words.
If you know nothing about the NFL, know this. The referees look at the same plays… when they make different hand signals, something is wrong. In this picture, the referee on the left is waving his arms above his head to “stop the clock”, a common hand signal that indicates an interception. The referee on the right is holding his arms straight up, indicating a touchdown.
If you go back in the video to :14, you may notice that Golden Tate pushes a Green Bay defender away from the ball, which should be called offensive pass interference, ending the game immediately.
Instead, the offensive penalty is not noticed, a flag is not thrown, and the referees let the play continue. The Packers appeared to come down with the ball, but Golden Tate reached for the ball with his right hand and was awarded with the touchdown.
There’s a rule in the NFL rulebook that hardly ever gets used. It basically says that “ties go to the offense”. So, if a ball is thrown in the air and an offensive player and defensive player both catch the ball at the same time and land on the ground, with each of them having at least a share of possession, then the offensive player is awarded the ball and the play ends.
Tonight’s Green Bay Packers vs Seattle Seahawks game was the perfect storm. Green Bay defender MD Jennings had the ball in his possession and Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate faked simultaneous possession by sticking his arm between the football and the defender’s chest. He didn’t maintain a grip on the ball, but because his arm was in there, the replacement refs thought he had some possession.
Looking at replays, it’s clear that it should have been an interception.
So, why wasn’t the call reversed when they reviewed the play?
Possession in a pile cannot be reversed by instant replay. It’s stupid, I know. You can review and reverse a first down, fumble, a close sideline catch, but you cannot review and reverse who has possession of the ball in a pile or called penalties.
There are some weird rules in the NFL.
Anyways, this referee blunder didn’t just ruin the game. It altered the course of two football teams. Instead of being 2-1, the Packers are 1-2. Instead of being 1-2, the Seahawks are 2-1. Furthermore, the NFL and NFL referees, who met on Sunday to negotiate a deal that would end the NFL referee holdout, “should” be more motivated to get a deal done. The replacement referees clearly have no idea what is going on.
There’s a ton of angst on twitter about this situation, but it’s not doing any good. People are attempting to apply logic where there is none. The replacement refs just don’t know what they’re doing. That’s the bottom line.
Although, if you are really mad about this whole replacement ref situation, feel free to call Roger Goodell and complain. Clay Matthews posted the NFL Commissioner’s phone number on twitter.