NFL stands by ruling in Packers-Seahawks game
Published Tuesday, September 25, 2012 11:14AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 25, 2012 1:34PM EDT
The NFL says that after reviewing the final play in Monday night’s game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks, it “supports the decision” of replay officials not to overturn the on-field ruling of a touchdown.
The league issued its statement around noon ET Tuesday, about 12 hours after football fans were treated to another controversial call by replacement officials, who have been working games amid a labour dispute between the NFL and its referees.
In its statement, the league said that “the result of the game is final.”
With eight seconds left in the game, Seattle had the ball at the Green Bay 24 and elected to throw on 4th and 10.
While everyone watching saw an interception by Packers safety M.D. Jennings, one of the two officials in the endzone signalled a stoppage of play, while another awarded a touchdown to Seahawks receiver Golden Tate.
It was also clear that Tate pushed Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields, which should have been an offensive pass interference call that would have ended the game.
Replay officials reviewed the play and determined that the touchdown call would stand, giving Seattle a 14-12 victory.
In its statement Tuesday, the league said “the officials determined that both Tate and Jennings had possession of the ball. Under the rule for simultaneous catch, the ball belongs to Tate, the offensive player. The result of the play was a touchdown.”
The league said its Officiating Department reviewed the video Tuesday morning and “supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review,” adding that “the result of the game is final.”
The game’s final play triggered outrage among fan and current and former players, who took to Twitter to call out the league and its officials.
"These games are a joke," Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman tweeted.
Packers guard T.J. Lang risked a heavy fine by the league for tweeting his anger after the game.
“Embarrassing,” Lang tweeted. “Thanks nfl.”
In another tweet, Lang said: “Any player/coach in Seattle that really thinks they won that game has zero integrity as a man and should be embarrassed.”
On Tuesday, Lang tweeted that the “Only thing I regret from my tweets are the F bombs. Sorry bout that.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy was more careful in his post-game remarks, saying the result was, "Very hard to swallow."
He went on: "I have never seen anything like that in my time in football."
The debacle on Monday Night Football followed confusion during previous weeks’ games when coaches, players and fans were left scratching their heads after strange and, most damaging, incorrect calls.
On Monday, Denver Broncos coach John Fox was hit with a $30,000 fine and defensive co-ordinator Jack Del Rio received a $25,000 fine for verbally abusing officials during a game against the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 17.
Officials incorrectly told Fox that he could not challenge a call of 12 men on the field, though replays showed the call would have been upheld.
Also Sunday, Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz lambasted officials for marking a Lions penalty from their own 44-yard line, rather than from the line of the scrimmage, which was the Titans’ 44.
The Titans kicked a field goal and ended up winning the game 44-41.
Schwartz said he pleaded his case to an alternate official who helps the replacement referees with penalty calls, who was standing nearby.
"We said, 'You're enforcing it from the wrong spot.' He was adamant that they weren't doing so," Schwartz said. "At that point, we just needed to play."
Officials have been locked out by the league since June. League representatives met with the officials’ union on Sunday in an effort to resolve the labour dispute, but failed to reach a deal.
During last Monday’s game between Atlanta and Denver, ESPN’s Mike Tirico came down hard on the officials.
“We don't want to talk about the officials, trust us," Tirico said. "But it's affecting the game. When we meet with teams and co-ordinators, frustration boils out into limited on-the-record statements. Off the record, what guys are saying -- it's a nightmare. It is impacting the game.
"It hasn't burned a team to cost them a playoff spot yet. But you should go back and watch the film. There are so many little things that players are getting away with that is absolutely impacting the game to the detriment of the product."
But Patriots receiver Deion Branch gave the officials a break.
"But I think the bigger picture is that we've all got to understand that, hey, they're making those calls on both sides of the ball," Branch said. "Us as players, we need to remove ourselves from what the refs are doing and just go out and play our game."
With files from The Associated Press