NFL Playoffs: Are Replacement Refs to Blame for Packers' Loss to 49ers?

Peter Emerick@@peteremerickSenior Writer IIJanuary 13, 2013

Jan 12, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) congratulates San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) after the NFC divisional round playoff game at Candlestick Park.  The 49ers defeated the Packers 45-31. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers are out of the NFL playoffs...again.

With an early exit for the second straight year, Packers fans are left wondering what happened this time around.

While you can blame the Packers defense, their coaches or even Jeremy Ross and his muffed punt, there has to be at least some focus on the fact that the Packers should've ended the season with a 12-4 overall record. 

Remember when those replacement refs were in the back of the end zone on Monday Night Football doing the YMCA dance instead of convening on a last-second heave from Russell Wilson that was "caught" by Golden Tate?

If the refs got that call right, the Packers would've ended the season with a 12th win instead of their fifth loss—that is, of course, assuming that every other game would've played out the way they did.

For the sake of this argument, let's say they did.

Let's say the refs decided that Golden Tate pushed off Sam Shields like he did and that M.D. Jennings got credit for an interception. The Packers would've left CenturyLink Field with another win instead of a heartbreaking loss, while the Seahawks, well, they would've been handed the second loss of their season instead of their second win.

Fast forward to the start of the 2013 NFL playoffs. With that additional loss, the Seahawks would've ended the season with a 10-6 record, but still would've made the playoffs over the Chicago Bears because they won the head-to-head matchup.

The Seahawks would've also still been the fifth seed in the NFC because of their 30-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings earlier in the season 

That would've put Seattle, most likely, in a first-round matchup against the Washington Redskins, much like the actual playoff scenario played out. 

The Packers, on the other hand, would've sat out of the first round of the playoffs and would've met the winner of the San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings—the No. 3 seed vs. No. 6 seed.

If the Vikings had won that matchup, they would've traveled to Lambeau field to take on the Packers. We saw how that matchup would've played out in the first round, with the Packers beating the Vikings 24-10.

If the 49ers would have made it out of the first round in our fictional playoff scenario, they would've met up with the Packers just like they actually did. The only difference is that the game would've been played on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field instead of at Candlestick Park. 

The weather in those two locations, based on Saturday night's evening kickoff time, was 46 degrees at Candlestick and 15 degrees at Lambeau field, according to

The point here is that if the replacement referees would've gotten that call right in the Monday Night Football matchup between the Packers and Seahawks, the 49ers and Packers still could've met in the second round of the playoffs. It would've just been at a very different location, and it could've had a very different result. 

So, have we all overlooked the importance of that fateful blown call a few months ago, or does it not matter? You all be the judge in the comment section below.