The NFL’s rulebook–Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 5–specifies what makes up a simultaneous catch.
“If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control.”
The Green Bay Packers are not my favorite team…but NFL football is my favorite sport. Tonight, replacement referees–officials from high schools and smaller colleges–did what every NFL fan fears. They changed the outcome of the game. They chipped away at its very integrity, took a very big chunk out of the NFL shield.
They didn’t mean to do it. The poor bastards–excuse my language–are in way over their heads.
At the end, one man–Green Bay Packer cornerback M.D. Jennings–caught the ball in the end zone with time expiring. Another player–Seattle Seahawks receiver Golden Tate–got his left arm in there.
It was clearly not a simultaneous catch. An opponent subsequently gained joint control. The game should have ended right there with a Green Bay win.
But one referee put his arms straight up, signaling “Touchdown”. Another that had a better view also put his arms straight up, but waved them from side to side above his head, signaling “Touchback,” meaning that the ball was intercepted.
There was no attempt to huddle and discuss the call. The official that called the play a touchback gave in to the other.
No problem, right? All scoring plays are reviewed upstairs by other officials to be sure that they got it right.
“Upon further review, the ruling on the field stands. It is a touchdown,” it was announced.
Just prior to the alleged catch, Tate clearly pushed a Packer defender away, which should have resulted in a flag for Offensive Pass Interference. Game over, as a contest can’t end on a defensive foul…but it can on an offensive one.
After the game, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, “I know it’s been a wild weekend in the NFL, and I guess we’re part of that now.”
Yes, Mike…yes, now you are. And this game will go down in history…but for all the wrong reasons.
Read more on the game–and the controversy–here.