Some are calling it the first ever game-winning interception thrown by a quarterback. Others — particularly fans in Wisconsin — are calling it a travesty. In yet another setback for the National Football League’s replacement officials, the nation watched as two officials couldn’t seem to agree who actually caught the football on the pivotal final play of the Seattle vs. Green Bay Monday Night Football game, a catch that determined the outcome of the contest.
With Seattle trailing by five points and with only eight seconds remaining in the game, rookie quarterback Russell Wilson heaved a Hail Mary pass toward a cluster of players in the end zone. As replays would show, Green Bay defensive back M.D. Jennings got two hands on the ball and pulled it to his chest as he fell to the ground. Seattle receiver Golden Tate had one arm on the pass but clearly did not have control of the ball.
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Two officials ran toward the pile — as did Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and a host of cameramen and players — and after they briefly made eye contact, one signaled touchdown and the other waved his hands to stop the clock, the proper procedure before calling a touchback. Two officials; two different calls.
While the NFL rules state that a simultaneous catch is awarded to the offense, it’s hard to argue that this was a simultaneous catch. A review of the play from the officials’ booth — which a former official, speaking on Monday Night Football, said can be used only to determine if the ball was actually caught, not to decide which team has possession — upheld the play.
Chaos ensued, with media and fans all over the place, players leaving the field and the officials being summoned to a communication headset to speak with game officials. While the touchdown gave Seattle a 13-12 lead with no time on the clock, rules state that a point-after must be attempted. After a considerable delay, Seattle sent its kicking team onto the field and 11 Green Bay players scooped their helmets out of the equipment bin and stood on the field during the converted PAT.
Seattle won the game 14-12 on a last-second touchdown. At least that is what the stat sheet will say.