There was a dramatic epilogue in the Monday Night Football on September 24, 2012 between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks. In fact, the Packers were leading 12-7 but the Seahawks won with a so-called Hail Mary pass that led to score a touchdown when the clock just expired. These things happen but the circumstances in which this touchdown was awarded are causing a lot of controversy on the value of the replacement officials who are officiating the NFL games in this start of the season.
According to NFL rules, a pass is considered completed by the receiver if the football is caught simultaneously with a defender but is considered an interception if the defender catches the football first and only then a receiver puts his hands on it.
In yesterday’s Monday Night Football, watching the pictures it seems pretty clear that Green Bay Packers safety M.D. Jennings (photo ©Gabriel Cervantes) is the first player to get his hands on the football and only then Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate wrestles with him to take it. A few seconds earlier, Tate also pushed Packers cornerback Sam Shields in the back, which is an offensive pass interference. It’s true that in Hail Mary pass situations many things happen in the touchdown area but that doesn’t mean that the officials don’t have to pay attention to fouls.
In this case, two officials approached Jennings and Tate started and here the big problem started. One of the two assigned the intercept signaling the change of possession while the other assigned the reception signaling the touchdown. In the end, the ruling on the field was for a touchdown. As in all the plays of this type, there was a video review but in these cases there must be enough evidence to overturn the ruling on the field. To many people the pictures seem more than enough to establish that it was an interception but the touchdown was confirmed giving a 14-12 victory to the Seattle Seahawks.
In a few hours, on the Internet the replacement officials received huge criticism. Even on the NFL site there’s a video that largely explains what happened so everyone can judge for themselves beyond the opinion expressed.
In this start of the NFL season, the replacement officials have shown more than once that their level is far below that of the “real” NFL officials. Therefore we can only hope that a new collective bargaining agreement with the referees will be signed as soon as possible to avoid further controversies.