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Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks: 3 Simple Reasons It Was a Touchdown

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Wide receiver Golden Tate #81 of the Seattle Seahawks makes a catch in the end zone to defeat the Green Bay Packers on a controversial call by the officials at CenturyLink Field on September 24, 2012 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
John WeeastContributor IIISeptember 25, 2012

The most controversial call of the 2012 season came on Monday Night Football. Green Bay lost in Seattle when what seemed like an interception was ruled a touchdown. 

I'm going to show you three simple reasons why it was a touchdown. 

 

1. Interceptions Follow the Rules of a Catch

M. D. Jennings obviously gets both hands on the ball while Golden Tate simultaneously gets one hand on the ball. Jennings brings the ball into his chest and then Tate gets his second hand on the ball prior to Jennings getting both feet on the ground. 

As they both have two hands on the ball and are in possession as they come to the ground, it is considered a simultaneous catch. 

The time Jennings is in the air doesn't begin the actual catch. 

The only time that can be judged is when Jennings' second foot finally reaches the ground. Because it is in the end zone, the play is dead at that moment since the ball didn't come out as they went to the ground.

 

2. The Second Half of the Rule Doesn't Apply

The NFL rule book reads (h/t CBS Sports):

Simultaneous Catch. If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players 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. If the ball is muffed after simultaneous touching by two such players, all the players of the passing team become eligible to catch the loose ball.

The argument last night was that Jennings gained control first and then Tate gained joint control after. 

But as I laid out in reason No. 1, control isn't established until the process of the catch is complete. At that point, both players have control, so the question as to who has control first doesn't apply here. 

It would have come into play had Jennings been the only one with two hands on the ball when both feet touched. If Tate had then reached in, the rule would apply.

 

3. In the End Zone, Possession Is Reviewable and Was Upheld By the Officials

ESPN and NFL Network both mistakenly initially reported that possession on a simultaneous catch wasn't reviewable and that was why it had to be upheld. 

Wrong. 

They corrected it today, because possession on a simultaneous catch isn't reviewable in the regular field of play, but it is in the end zone. 

So if there was a mistake, the replacement officials, the regular officials and the league office all got it wrong. 

At first glance, I too thought it was an interception. 

When I saw the first replay after it was ruled a touchdown, I changed my mind. 

The obvious offensive pass interference was the real blown call, but that is almost never called on a Hail Mary. 

It all could have been avoided if M.D. Jennings had done what every DB is coached to do on that play—knock it down or out of bounds.

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