Storytime: Last night, during Monday Night Football's presentation of the Seattle Seahawks versus the Green Bay Packers, an insane thing happened that illustrated exactly why the NFL's referee strike is a very bad thing for the game (as great as it is for ratings). In the last seconds of the game, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a 24-yard Hail Mary to the end zone, where Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings caught the football half a second before Seattle receiver Golden Tate got his own hands on it -- after Jennings pulled the ball into his chest, establishing possession (aka "MINE!"). What you see pictured is a screenshot of one referee signaling a touchdown for Seattle. The other referee is signaling an interception by Green Bay, meaning the touchdown didn't happen. As a result, the Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers, 14-12 -- the Green Bay Packers. After the jump, the insane play, followed by the incredibly bad call. Packers fans (including my Uncle Bobby): my deepest condolences.
Here is the video of the play, followed by another angle (video link):
And a different view (video link):
I'm not saying that professional referees are immune to making bad calls. It totally happens. But this? This is what you might call "a doozy," and since we all know the people officiating the game are non-professional replacements, it makes them look like farcical baby dumb-dumbs who don't understand the rules they are tasked with enforcing (or, as they're more commonly being called, displaced Foot Locker employees) while the real refs sit back and laugh and wait for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to get over himself and pony up. Because it didn't end there -- the call was reviewed for almost ten minutes, at which point, another replacement official said that the touchdown call from the field will stand, and everyone had to come back on the field for the extra point. Meanwhile, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll thought it would be totally cool to conduct a post-game interview before the actual end of the game, but this morning said that yeah, maybe the real refs should be brought back. You know, after they hand him the game. Either he feels guilty about his dubious win, or he has brought new meaning to the phrase "Monday/Tuesday morning quarterback."
ESPN has a more detailed rundown (in the video) of how bad this call really was, and how it ranks among the NFL's worst calls ever. (Hint: It's up there.) But Bill Plaschke at the LA Times has put it in a pretty neat nutshell:
Want to know my favorite statistic of Week 3 before Monday? Sixteen of 20 coach's challenges resulted in overturned calls, meaning officials made the wrong decision on 80% of some of the biggest plays. Think about that.
Want to know my second-favorite statistic? When you crunch the numbers, if the NFL gave the locked-out referees everything they wanted, it would cost about $100,000 extra per team per season. That equals about four games' pay for one of a team's lowest-paid players. The owners are watching their sport burn because they won't improve the officials' compensation by about one-fourth the amount they would pay a backup guard? Think about that.
OK, real quick, I've got a third-favorite statistic from last weekend. There were 13 penalty first downs in the game between the Patriots and the Ravens, which is only the most in the history of the NFL.
Yeah -- time to pony up.