controversial ending to the Seattle-Green Bay game.
Green Bay appeared to have intercepted the ball on the final play of the game -- a fourth-and-10 from the Packers' 24 -- but Seattle's Golden Tate was ruled to also have possession and the Seahawks won with a last-second TD, 14-12.
UPDATE: The NFL issued a statement Tuesday afternoon admitting the Packers should have won the game because Tate should have been called for offensive interference on the play. A part of the statement reads: "While the ball is in the air, [Golden} Tate can be seen shoving Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields to the ground. This should have been a penalty for offensive pass interference, which would have ended the game. It was not called and is not reviewable in instant replay.".
Replay Official Howard Slavin stopped the game for an instant replay review. The aspects of the play that were reviewable included if the ball hit the ground and who had possession of the ball. In the end zone, a ruling of a simultaneous catch is reviewable. That is not the case in the field of play, only in the end zone.
Referee Wayne Elliott determined that no indisputable visual evidence existed to overturn the call on the field, and as a result, the on-field ruling of touchdown stood. The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the video today and supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review.
The result of the game is final.
The NFL also noted that the final call should not have been overturned -- that Tate did have simultaneous possession of the ball. However, that should have been moot since she should have been called for offensive pass interference.
Packer fans -- and there may be more of them in America than for any other team -- are justifiably furious. Their team should have won after all -- and the NFL is even admitting it, which is a bit stunning in itself. This could be a good thing, leading to more pressure on the NFL to settle the ongoing labor dispute with the refs.
But look, I don't blame the refs here. I blame the NFL. The NFL has put its replacements into an impossible situation. It's a little like a NASCAR team saying, OK, you look like you can drive a car on I-85 at 70 mph pretty well. Let's enter you in the next Sprint Cup race. Good luck!
Of course, a wreck is going to occur. But who is really at fault? The NFL needs to pony up to pay its real refs, who are well-paid by American standards but on the poverty level compared to NFL players and coaches. It's not like the league doesn't have the money.
In the meantime, the refs are absolutely being abused, getting the full-on substitute teacher treatment. Former Panther coach John Fox has already been fined $30,000 for getting after them too much, and the fine for Bill Belichick should be substantially more than that for putting his hands on one at the end of the New England-Baltimore game Sunday night. Kyle Shanahan, the Washington assistant, ran into the tunnel to rip the crew and should draw a huge fine, too.
Here's what the NFL should do: Use all the fines levied to help pay the real refs. Get the real guys back on the job. And, while you're at it, give the replacement refs a bonus and an apology for putting them in this untenable situation. Then send them on their merry way.
Two more notes:
1) In Tuesday's newspaper and online, my colleague Tom Sorensen and I debate the merits of Cam Newton's "Superman" celebration. Check out my view and Tom's view.
2) The Panthers play Seattle and former N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson, who now has the Seahawks off to a 2-1 start, in their next home game Oct.7th at 4:05 p.m. in Charlotte. The Seahawks' pass rush produced eight sacks of Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers Monday night -- all in the first half. It will be quite a challenge for the Panthers' offensive line.
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