The first three weeks of the 2012 NFL season have been dominated by debate over the replacement referees — brought in while the league and its usual refs struggle to resolve a labor dispute — who have bungled some major calls.
No error has been more glaring than the final, dramatic play during Monday Night Football on Sept. 24, as the Seattle Seahawks faced a 4th and 10 at home to the Green Bay Packers with the clock running out. Only a touchdown could win the game for Seattle, and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson tossed the ball into the end zone, hoping for a minor miracle of sorts.
Boy, did he get one. Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate appeared to shove Packer defender Sam Shields out of the way, before he desperately tried to wrest control of the ball from M.D. Jennings. The ruling on the field was a touchdown (even though a clear image of one official waving his hands to stop the clock in order to call for a touchback will live in NFL infamy). But the score was upheld after lengthy review — and again by the NFL in a statement the following day — leaving the Seahawks celebrating their good fortune while the Packers fumed all the way back to Wisconsin.