A determined performance by a rookie quarterback. A tremendous adjustment by a struggling offense. A near-record amount of sacks. The continuation of a great resurgence by Marshawn Lynch.
All of these things should have been the lede here tonight.
Instead we're talking about literally the single worst bungle of a finish to an NFL game ever.
No, it's not hyperbole. We'll touch on the good points, but this was a horrifically bad finish to a game. Forget the multiple bad pass interference penalties, which both sides had to deal with. Forget the ticky-tack holding calls and questionable ball placement.
Look at the picture to the right and explain how that play was anything but a Green Bay interception.
It's insane that we're talking about this now. Here's the kicker—Seattle fans should be just as incensed. The fourth quarter was among the worst called of Week 3's slate if games.
Which includes a game in which the refs gave the San Francisco 49ers an extra timeout.
It's hard to think of a time when it's been tougher to love this league. For a while it was easy to point out that the regular refs are awful sometimes too, that they sometimes blow game-changing calls (I'm looking at you, Ed Hochuli).
This was a whole other level of awful, though.
Aside from the possession issue, the scrum for the ball at the end of regulation was embarrassing. One ref trying to untie three players, then suddenly swarmed on by Seahawk players and their coach?
There is no way, if the regular refs were officiating, a team swarms them while they try to figure out that play. No chance. It's a lack of respect.
Also, how do you call a touchdown when you are staring at the ball in M.D. Jennings' hands? Golden Tate did have a single hand on it...but that's not shared possession.
Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 5 of the NFL rulebook states: "It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control."
When did Tate gain control? Sure looks to me like Jennings is down before Tate does anything other than hold on for dear life.
It's a travesty, and I don't roll my $5 words out like that often.
The only upside here is maybe we now get the actual NFL refs back. I'd feel better complaining about their usually minor errors than this debacle-sized junk.
There were some worthwhile moments in the game, believe it or not, that did not involve the officiating.
After an abysmal first half in which Aaron Rodgers was sacked numerous times and was unable to get a throw off, the Packers made a significant halftime adjustment and committed to running the ball in the second half, which bought them enough time to hit some short routes with Jermichael Finley and Jordy Nelson.
Cedric Benson did well save for a fumble at the end, which almost cost the Packers the game—until the refs did it, instead.
The defense managed to slow Lynch down for most of the second half, though he willed the Seahawks to within striking distance on the last drive before the evening all went to hell.
The Packers should take away one important lesson from this game: They can, and should, run the ball. Play-action is much more effective when the defense thinks you might run it. A good running game sets up the long ball as well as shorter strikes. The threat of a run makes it hard for defenses to just tee off on Rodgers.
The offensive line needs to play better, but they manned up in the second half and played much stouter.
There was much to like about the Seahawks, as well. Offensively they have issues, but the defense is the real deal.
In the end, though, this game was about blown calls. It may have ended on the biggest one we've ever seen.
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