The moment we were all dreading finally happened. The NFL’s replacement referees blew a decision that cost a team the game, and has left its playoff hopes on life support as a result.
The Green Bay Packers, having bounced back from a terrible first half, led the Seattle Seahawks 12-7 with four seconds remaining, only to have Russell Wilson’s Hail Mary pass ruled as a touchdown catch rather than what it was, a clear interception, and touchback, icing the game.
Instead the Seattle Seahawks were given the win, incensing the Packers and American football fans worldwide.
Criminally, the referees reviewed the play on video, which by the way is not allowed for this sort of play, and still didn’t overturn the initial ruling on the field. The Packers stormed off the field, furious, only to be made to suffer the indignation of being called out once more, eight minutes later, to line up for the extra point.
The game finally ended 14-12 in favour of the Seahawks.
No-one can blame Seattle for the end of the game, wide-receiver Golden Tate went for the ball and came down with one arm on it, the only issue is that Packers safety M.D. Jennings had it clearly in his possession.
“The fact it was an interception was an afterthought,” said one commentator on ESPN Monday Night Football.
The question is what happens next. Will Commissioner Roger Goodell make an unprecedented move and overturn the result? Unlikely.
It would be good if he did because the whole world saw an unjust ending to the game, but more importantly Goodell needs to end the referee’s lockout.
By all accounts, talks over the weekend between the referee’s union and the league office failed to yield any results, but Monday night’s events could prove to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
According to www.sportsclubstats.com, the chances of Green Bay making the playoffs has slipped to just 25.3% from 34.4% prior to the game. With a richly deserved win, the Packers would have more than a 50% chance of making the postseason.
More seriously than the outcome of games, player safety continues to be under threat. Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward Bey was knocked unconscious in mid-air before falling on his head and being stretchered off on a spinal board for hospital tests after an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit that did not even draw a penalty.
Thankfully Heyward Bey has been discharged from hospital with just a concussion, but if the replacement referees continue to officiate with no control over the game and little understanding for the rules, a serious injury is inevitable, just like a blown call that decides a game was until last night.
image: © silwenae