Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

25 Sep 2012

Official NFL Statement on REFPOCALYPSE

While the ball is in the air, Tate can be seen shoving Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields to the ground. This should have been a penalty for offensive pass interference, which would have ended the game. It was not called and is not reviewable in instant replay ... When the players hit the ground in the end zone, the officials determined that both Tate and Jennings had possession of the ball ... Referee Wayne Elliott determined that no indisputable visual evidence existed to overturn the call on the field, and as a result, the on-field ruling of touchdown stood. The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the video today and supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 25 Sep 2012

170 comments, Last at 29 Sep 2012, 1:57am by Insancipitory


by tuluse :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:00pm

I can count on zero fingers the number of times that pass interference has been called on a hail mary.

Also, I thought in real time dual possession was a reasonable call, it's what I thought at first with the advantage of TV angles.

Overall the game was still poorly officiated, although I actually thought the SNF game had worse reffing.

by jackgibbs :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:07pm

eric mangini begs to differ with your fingers


by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:15pm

Yeah, I've seen DPI, but never OPI, and it isn't because I've never seen a receiver blatantly push off. For some reason, though, it's never been enforced.

by rageon :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:58pm

The play that comes to mind for me is the Pats/Ravens game late in the season when the Pats were on their 16-0 run. I seem to remember a Ravens receiver (or two) pulling defenders down by the jersey and very nearly making the catch to win the game. No penalty called.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:01pm

I just posted about the same game further down.

The guy made the catch, but it was at the 2 or 3 yard line and he couldn't get in the end zone.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:05pm

Yeah, it happens with some frequency, but because it rarely results in a td, or has never happened, prior to now, with replacement refs, nobody says anything.

I get really tired for these retired refs in the media getting all high and mighty, like I've heard from them since last night, about the failure to call OPI. Like those hacks ever did any better.

by dryheat :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:18pm

There was a DPI called in a Pats/Bills game some time back...back far enough that Terry Glenn and Doug Flutie were prominently involved. I think Ben Coates too.

Anyway, the defender grabbed both of Glenn's legs so he couldn't jump for the ball and was flagged. It was fairly controversial at the time, as the common wisdom was that there was no such thing as interference on a jump ball.

by Travis :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:46pm

That was the 1998 Week 13 game (2:10 mark in video), and coincidentally, Pete Carroll was coaching the Patriots at the time. The Patriots scored the winning touchdown on the next play.

The DPI immediately followed a blown call on a 4th down sideline catch, which contributed to the controversy.

by Travis :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:55pm

Also, there was an OPI called on a Hail Mary at the end of the 1991 Jets-Oilers wild card game (skip to the 1:10:00 mark of this video; you may have to wait for the entire thing to load).

by Cro-Mags :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 5:03pm

It was especially classy when already up by 2 with time expired, Pete saw that the other team wasn't going to contest the PAT out of protest, so he changed the play and had Viantieri run it in for the 2-point conversion. Woohoo!

by Dennis :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 8:19pm

Point differential is a playoff tiebreaker. If you have a chance for a free point, take it.

by Whatev :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 4:09am

In soccer, goal differential is a very important tiebreaker and it is perfectly understandable to grab every goal you can. Point differential in football is... has any tiebreaker ever been decided on point differential? I can't remember.

by kenster (not verified) :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 9:05pm

In 1980, final game of the season, the Eagles were 12-3 and playing the Cowboys at 11-4. If I remember right, Dallas had to win the game by a certain number of points to win the division, because all of the other tiebreakers were a wash. I think the number was 25 points, and they were actually up 35-10 at one point before Philadelphia came back to make it close. That is as close as I can remember coming to a point differential making a difference.

by Dave in Tucson (not verified) :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 10:38pm

There was a situation at the end of the 1999 season where points scored was a tie-breaker between the Packers and Panthers, both vying for the #6 wildcard spot. That explains why both teams ran up the score of the final game of the season, even after victory was well in hand.

Unfortunately, this scenario also required the Cowboys to lose, which didn't happen.

by Travis :: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 8:12am

But if the Giants had just beaten the Cowboys by 82 that afternoon, they would have been the #6 seed instead.

The NFL changed the tiebreaker order before the 2002 season. Point differential is now behind strength-of-victory and strength-of-schedule, making it really unlikely that it's going to come into play again.

by dryheat :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 7:43am

It's the safer play. Vinatieri may have missed the kick. It's also the faster play. Unless that point was the point spread, who cares whether the win was by two, three, or four?

I mean, was it less classy than pulling the Bills off the field before the game was over?

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:22pm

I pretty much agree with you.

The OPI on that play was blatant, but is never called on a hail mary. I could see the regular refs calling simultaneous and not overturning it. I don't agree, but I understand.

Not a point you made but I need to watch again to see about the claims of uncalled blatant holds by the Packers in the 2nd half. I've mentioned this before and people don't always realize it, but you can grab and hold the defender as long as your arms stay inside and directly in front of you. I saw some of that which people think should be holding but isn't, but I really wasn't watching the Packers line closely.

The negated int because of the roughing the passer annoyed me. Especially since I'm not a huge Walden fan and he has a tendency to go high when he gets near the QB and has done other borderline stuff. This time he was tackling a runner, since Wilson was out of the box and no longer afforded that protection, and he was aiming for the waist. But I've seen the regular refs call stuff like that before too.

The DPI on Shields was also awful that was OPI not DPI. That is one that I don't think the regular guys would have gotten wrong, they may not have called OPI but I doubt they would have called that DPI.

They also were awful in favor of the Packers on their TD drive with the DPI as well.

I don't want to say the refs cost the Packers the game. But the second half was called so poorly that it's hard to say which team really should have won. The Seahawks, destroyed the Packers in the first half. The Packers did adjust in the 2nd and the Packer's D was good for most of the game too. But there were too many bad calls that could have changed how both teams may have called plays if they would have been called correctly. I think the Packers adjusted well enough that they should have won because I think without the bad calls both way they were showing enough consistency on both sides of the ball in the 2nd half that they likely would have still won (perhaps just 9-7 or 13-10). I've seen others say they feel the second half was invalidated by the officiating. I like that.

It's sad too because it really was an exciting game to that point, but then I like to see good defense too, and while there was bad offense in this game, like the GB-Chicago game I think the play had more to do with good defense than bad offense.

by RickD :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:42pm

OPI on a Hail Mary is usually not as blatant as what Tate did on that play.

You have to throw that flag. You cannot simply suspend all rules because it's the last play of the game.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:50pm

I agree it should be enforced. I've been saying that for several decades, encompassing several hundred Hail Marys. I've seen a lot of blatant pushoffs, where the ref had no idea whether the ball would be caught. I've never seen the flag thrown.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:09pm

I'm with both of you, it should be enforced, and had it been enforced there would have been some discussion on the lines "Wow they never call that" but we wouldn't be saying it was the wrong call.

I'll be happy if they start calling it from this point forward too. But the reality is that NFL rules enforcement does tend to work a bit like court decisions, if a precedent is set, calls/decisions, tend to be the same until something big comes along to change it. This could be that something big for calling OPI on hail mary plays.

So I agree the specific calls based on the situation impacted the outcome of the game. My point was more that I've seen the normal refs screw up the same way on specific calls like that. I was more annoyed with the bad officiating overall in the second half that really ruined the game. The last call was just the cherry on top of the crap sundae.

by ptp (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:25pm

Unrepentant Seahawks homer here, but I disagree that the Packers were actually adjusting on offense - I lost track of uncalled offensive holds on Irvin and Clemons in the second half, in particular on that TD drive. The only time it was called was on a play when Seattle got a sack anyway.

I'm not saying I don't think GB *couldn't* have adjusted in spite of those calls, but it leaves enough doubt in my mind as to the result on either side. GB had the momentum after that second field goal, that's for sure, but that was a huge, huge drive that ate up a ton of clock time, and whose adjustments would've prevailed if there had been a handful more drives? Russell Wilson has typically been Jekyll and Hyde between the first and second halves, and if you look at TOP (it was almost exactly 15:15 at the half), that drive heavily contributed to a major swing in GB's favor. On the other hand, something definitely looked off all game, and pressure was coming all night long - that 19-yard sack was extremely disappointing.

My team got a win, but what I'm really mad about is that I don't feel like it had any value. A loss would've left me infuriated, for sure, and given the media's general affection for the Packers it probably would've played out with a lot less drama, but I just feel like the vast bulk of that second half was a huge stinking mess (including Seattle's two drives after GB's touchdown - Rice's gamed DPI call was like something out of soccer/basketball).

by Ken (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:01pm

I have to agree with the refs being so bad it's impossible to tell. The Seahawks certainly don't score without the penalties, although I think the pass interference (which is tough to call at full speed), the touchdown, and the non-offensive PI are all at least understandable calls, it is unfortunate they all went against the Packers.

I don't think the Packers get their touchdown without bad officiating (I thought Greg Jennings got to the one yard line (he was ruled short) and then I though that Rodgers didn't (he was ruled to have reached it).

by turbohappy :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 5:18pm

Don't forget the phantom PI on 3rd down called against the Seahawks on that TD drive too.

I 100% agree that I have no clue who would have won with good officiating. Which is what makes it so frustrating. Normal officials miss some calls sometimes, they're human. But I can't remember ever watching a game (or a half) where the officials so invalidated what was going on to the point that I had no clue who should have won.

by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 6:14pm

I told a buddy weeks ago that more likely than the replacements actually blowing a game with a horrific call was their being hung out to dry over a controversial call that might well have went the exact same way if the regular refs had been on the job. And I think that is exactly what is happening. I'd call it an INT personally, but dual possession wasn't a totally crazy call. And the push off rarely gets called in those sorts of cases.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:12pm

Yeah, since OPI has never been called in the 35 years of Hail Mary passes I've watched, I'm not going to hold the replacements to higher standards than the regulars.

I don't think that the immediate call on the field last night even cracks the top 50 of bad calls I've witnessed.

I don't know what the guys in the NFL Officiating Department are watching, other than their paychecks. Tate doesn't have more than one hand touching the ball until everybody is laying on the ground, whereas Jennings firmly controls the ball from beginning to end.

At least they aren't saying that they did not have the power to review possession.

by Independent George :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:20pm

The refs missed a clear defensive pass interference by the Niners in the playoff game against the Giants, but they at least admitted it the next morning. (It also led to Steve Mariucci's classic, "Bummer." rejoinder).

This statement is just the league holing up in its bunker moving phantom divisions around a map. Which reminds me - has Hitler been contacted for a reaction yet?

by Travis :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:32pm

It wasn't just that the Giants-49ers officials missed a clear DPI, but also that they were completely unaware of which Giants were eligible receivers on the lay.

by Marko :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:42pm

Not yet. He still isn't fully recovered from this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fzh1eknXpDg.

by Guest789 :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 6:53pm

Here it is.


“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:20pm

Technically, two arms doesn't supersede one arm of possession. I don't know if they can really give it to Jennings' with the argument that he had 'more possession'. You either have possession or not. I would've overturned it in review, but it is possible to make the case that there is no indisputable visual evidence.

Overall, I agree at live speed I've seen far worse calls (the Testaverde sneak in the '98 game that cost the Seahawks a playoff spot immediately came to mind because of the team).

To me, these judgement calls still aren't close to the real issue with the replacement refs, where they've granted extra challenges, timeouts and walked off penalties completely wrong. These are things that real refs rarely ever do. There's a decent chance the real refs call that simultaneous possession in real time yesterday.

by Podge (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:41pm

I think it depends what is meant by "indisputable". I mean, Jennings comes down to the ground with the ball, and ends up on the ground with most of the ball, but that doesn't necessarily mean he always had the ball, and that Tate didn't, at some point take it off him then Jennings grab some (most) of it back.

by Eddo :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:05pm


Here is the sequence of events, that very few people seem to dispute:

1) Jennings and Tate both jump and reach for the ball;
2) Jennings grabs initial possession of the ball;
3) Tate grabs for the ball while he and Jennings fall to the ground;
4) On the ground, both are wrestling for possession;
5) Jennings winds up with "more" possession at some point after they are on the ground.

There could very well be a step 3a: As they are falling, Jennings loses possession - by bobbling the ball or Tate knocking it loose - before regaining it. That would reset his initial possession, since he does have to complete the catch all the way to the ground. If this is the case, it didn't matter that Jennings had the initial possession - the window was open for Tate to now take control, and/or for simultaneous possession to occur.

Now, I don't think this *did* happen. On the replay, it looked to me like Jennings maintained control. However, this is the main reason why I don't think this is the egregious call many are making it out to be. I'd say it's wrong, but not one of the ten or twenty worst calls I've seen so far this season.

by dryheat :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:22pm

Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 5

“If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both 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,”

Cribbed from Gregg Rosenthal's column, but this certainly seems to be relevant here. Great, the NFL has come out and said that the officials applied the rules correctly in a simultaneous catch situation. They never said that the situation was actually a simultaneous catch. It seems they've crafted part of the rule to explicitly account for these types of plays.

by RickD :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:26pm

It wasn't a simultaneous catch. Now, one official may have thought it was a simultaneous catch, but the replay made it clear that Jennings not only had more control of the ball, but he also had possession of the ball first.

And he never bobbled the ball or anything like that.

by Eddo :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:36pm

No one in this thread is saying he did.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:43pm

Hell, the only way somebody can claim that Tate ever had possession, prior to laying on the ground, is if you are willing to say that a guy has possession when he is using one hand to press the ball against another's player's body part. That seems nuts to me.

I really don't mind the immediate call that much, although the failure of the guy in the white hat to get involved was bad. The failure to overturn was really terrible, and the explanation by the NFL today seems outright dishonest.

by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:44pm

I agree with Will. Instead of discussing what we mean by indisputable, we should argue what we mean by possession. Because to me, it sure seems like Jennings had possession and Tate didn't.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Eddo :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:35pm

That doesn't really refute my hypothetical. If Jennings lost possession on the way down, possession would have to be re-established, so the simultaneous catch was back on the table.

What if, as Jennings was falling, he visibly bobbled the ball, to the point where it was eight inches away from his body? And then, he and Tate grab it at the same time?

In no way should Jennings's initial possession - prior to him losing possession - factor into the outcome of the play.

Now, again, I'm not saying this happened. It sure looked to me like Jennings had control the whole way through. But that specific rule doesn't seem to be the end-all-be-all that I've seen several people argue it as.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:50pm

If the league was saying that Jennings lost possession on the way down, or that the guy who called the td was saying that, I'd by more receptive to that possibility.

by Eddo :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:57pm

Again, mine's a hypothetical (and I've been very clear that I *don't* think Jennings lost the ball on the way down). All I'm saying is that the rule cited is necessarily the final answer in this case.

by dryheat :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:20pm

The only way to reconcile the ruling:

1) Jennings feet weren't on the ground when he caught the ball
2) Therefore, Jennings never had control of the ball
3) When all four feet hit the turf, Tate and Jennings shared control
4) Simultaneous catch, offense gets the call

That doesn't really pass the sniff test though.

by Independent George :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:35pm

I'm not saying I agree with it. It's just that bird law in this country - it's not governed by reason.

by Eddo :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:02pm

Well done.

by Whatev :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 4:16am

With this line, it's really a shame the Eagles weren't involved somehow.

by Travis :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:53pm

A player can have control of the ball before his feet hit the ground, so the situation from #59 doesn't pass the sniff test.

The two most appropriate Approved Rulings in the 2011 NFL Casebook:

First-and-10 on A20. A2 and B3 simultaneously control a pass in the air at the A40. As they land, one or both players fall down to the ground.

Ruling: A’s ball, first-and-10 on A40. The ball is dead.

First-and-10 on A20. B3 controls a pass in the air at the A40 before A2, who then also controls the ball before they land. As they land, A2 and B3 fall down to the ground.

Ruling: B’s ball, first-and-10 on A40. Not a simultaneous catch as B3 gains control first and retains control.

8.29 seems to describe the actual on-field situation last night, but 8.26 is what the officials saw.

by dryheat :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:56pm

I have never heard of this casebook before. It sounds like something I'd like to have.

by Travis :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:08pm

They took it out of the publicly available rulebook for 2012, but the 2011 version can be found here. It starts on page 132.

by Marko :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:40pm

Thanks Travis. This seems to precisely address the situation.

by Roadspike73 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 9:30pm

That's exactly what Eric Davis says in this video:


by dryheat :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:22pm

But why are we introducting hypotheticals? This isn't what happened on the play. In a hypothetical situation where Jennings's feet land out of bounds, the pass is incomplete. Seems irrelevant to this discussion.

by Eddo :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:03pm

I think my initial hypothetical (introducing step 3a into my sequence of events) was OK, as it provided a possible interpretation of the events.

But since then, yes, we've gone far down the hypothetical rabbit hole. If this is all my fault, I apologize.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:56pm

I don't see any evidence that Tate ever had possesion, until he was laying on the ground; resting one hand on that ball doesn't constitute possession, in my view. Jennings had possession from beginning to end.

I'd love to see someone from the league go through the play, pointer in hand, frame by frame, to explain their reasoning, because I don't get it.

by MJK :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:06pm

I said this below, but I'll say it again.

I suspect the decision not to overturn had nothing to do with what was on film, and more to do with not admitting that their replacements made a game-changing mistake. If they overturned the ruling, they would be affirming that the replacement refs made a bad call that changed the outcome of a game. I can't remember that happening in my lifetime with real refs. It would therefore give the refs' union additional negotiating leverage and admitting that Goddell et al. made a mistake in trying to run a season with replacement refs, which they will never do.

Therefore, I doubt anyone could go through the play step by step and explain the reasoning, because the reasoning has more to do with politics than with what happened on the play.

Of course, maybe I'm just cynical...

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:18pm

What? You are saying that you've never seen the regular guys make an error that resulted in the wrong team winning? Really? Hell, Hochuli admitted to doing so last year.

Also, really, can we put to bed the notion that Goodell is calling any shots here? Goodell's behavior is the result of at least 24 owners telling him how to behave.

by theslothook :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:32pm

Exactly! The real issue for me is everyone keeps screaming at goodell and the banner called the nfl. Its the owners and no one has even started to criticize them.

by MJK :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 10:19pm

No, I've never seen the NFL overturn a ref's ruling and change the winner of the game after the fact. I certainly have seen refs admit that they blew a call that determined a winner (although I'm not sure I've seen the NFL itself officially admit that).

That's what they're refusing to do.

by Jerry :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 4:24am

The league has sent letters to teams over the years apologizing for wrong calls, some of which decided games. There's no provision for changing a result, though.

by Ryan D. :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:20pm
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:13pm

"Technically, two arms doesn't supersede one arm of possession."

according to former official Jim Tunney--yes it does. He said simultaneous possession is defined as both players having BOTH arms on the ball

by RickD :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:44pm

"Yeah, since OPI has never been called in the 35 years of Hail Mary passes I've watched, I'm not going to hold the replacements to higher standards than the regulars."

Have you seen OPI that was as blatant as Tate's willfully ignored? That wasn't just jockeying for position. He literally pushed Shields out of the play.

Whatever comes from this, I don't think we can resolve around the notion that OPI should never be called on a Hail Mary. (Not that you're saying that.)

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:59pm

I haven't gone back and looked, but one really blatant one I remember was the hail mary by Boller at the end of the MNF game against the Pats in '07. Either Derrick Mason or Mark Clayton caught it at the two or three yard line after just shoving some Patriots player to the ground. They didn't score, but came really close.

by patriotsgirl :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:02pm

I was about to post about that. I'm almost positive it was Derrick Mason, though I can't seem to find the video.

by dryheat :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 1:48pm

It was Clayton. Coincidentally, Post 174 in the Audibles thread links to the game.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:59pm

Sure, I've seen push offs just as blatant; they just rarely have ended with a td signal. The refs, however, can't tell if the catch is going to be made ahead of time. They just never flag it. I wish they would.

by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:47pm

We've all seen worse, I'm sure, over many years of watching football, but in my ~25 years of watching televised professional football, I don't recall there being a cluster of this many calls this bad in a period this short. YMMV.

Or, to badly paraphrase Churchill, never on the field of professional football have so many calls been botched so badly in so few weeks.

by RickD :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:52pm

And this is part of my response to people who say "yeah, but the regular refs make mistakes, too."

But this is like replacing 'A' (or sometimes 'B') students with 'D' and 'F' students. The overall quality level is way down.

by tuluse :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:13pm

I didn't mean to comment on the overall performance of the replacement refs, which has been sub par, but rather this single call, which wasn't even that bad in my eyes.

by Sakic (not verified) :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 9:08am

Control is the key word in that statement. You can't have simultaneous possession unless you have simultaneous control first. As soon as Jennings caught the ball and pulled it to his body he had "control" which after being established (according to the rulebook) joint control cannot occur which means Tate getting both hands in there after they crashed to the ground should've meant nothing since the replay clearly showed Jennings establishing control before Tate even gets a hand in there.

It was a sad failure on so many levels. The missed OPI (which I agree is never called but that was as blatant as it gets and should've been called), the failure of the officials to realize that simulataneous possession never occurred, and the failure of the replay official to overturn the play based on the clear evidence.

by RC (not verified) :: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 10:05am

"Tate doesn't have more than one hand touching the ball until everybody is laying on the ground,"

I disagree with this statement, but its irrelevant either way. By rule, you don't need two hands on the ball to control it.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 11:51am

By logic, one hand, pushing the ball against another player's body part, does not constitute control.

by tuluse :: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 11:59am

That's not the same as saying one cannot have control with one hand.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 1:36pm

Yes, but in the play being discussed, Tate was simply pressing the ball, with one hand, against another player, until he was on the ground, and then finally brought his other hand onto the ball, in an attempt to control the ball. Meanwhile, Jennings had control of the ball while at the top of his leap, all the way through to laying on the ground.

by ebongreen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:20pm

And in other news, the NFL has declared that "up" is now "down". Please adjust your sporting lives accordingly.

by 'nonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:40pm

I'm tired of seeing refs and announcers hiding behind the word "inconclusive." You should only feel compelled to stick with the call on the field when the replay doesn't show what happened (which can occur, but is very rare). If you can see what happened on the replay, even if it's a close call or requires some deliberation, you should make the correct call.

If this were practiced, however, we would lose all the discussion by announcers about degrees of conclusiveness. "OK, I can see he didn't catch it; but can I see conclusively that he didn't catch it? Let's try a less useful angle..."

by rengewnad (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:42pm

This morning I wondered what the various options for an NFL response were to the outcry over that call last night.
I knew that there would be supporters of all options, and I tried to put myself in the argument for and against each of the options to rationalize why it would be a good response.

The worst of all options is, in my opinion, the one the NFL chose. This response can be explaned as sticking their head in the sand and protecting their ass with the rulebook. Citing by-the-book step by step actions review process to prove the play was called per the rules.

The problem is that they're not addressing the obviously flawed subjective decisions made by the ref on the field. It is the subjective decision that Tate had control of the ball that is the issue, not that the rules were or were not followed. In fact, the same subjective decision was made twice, apparently. Once by the ref on the field, and once by the official looking at the replay.

I asked my non-football-fan wife to watch the various replays of the catch with ESPN's sound muted and asked her which person in that pile caught the ball. She looked at my like I was stupid for asking and said "the guy in the white shirt with 2 arms around the ball, duh..."

Hey, NFL -- your response should have said something like:

"The NFL rules and processes in place are approved by the NFL and NLFPA and were followed as written. However, regardless of the written rules in place, we must rely on the subjective decisions of the referees on the field in many cases throughout each game. In last night's game, based on the subjective decisions by the assigned referees all the correct rules were followed and all possible review opportunities were considered to ensure the 'right' call was made. In our opinion there were two specific subjective decisions made during the play, and during the review of the play, that the NFL and its fan community do not agree with. We appreciate the hard work and dedication provided by our referees this year and we will use this as a learning opportunity to preserve the enjoyment of this sport across the entire NFL community"

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:18pm

"I asked my non-football-fan wife to watch the various replays of the catch"

As someone who was rooting for Seattle and who thinks the refs called it wrong on the last play, I don't get these appeals to non-authority that I've seen occasionally. Why would a non-football fan be better placed to know the intricacies of the NFL rulebook? There are many cases where the common-sense thinking is wrong when you slow down the replay, not that this is one of them.

by rengewnad (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:12pm

intricacies of the nfl rulebook aside, it should be a well-founded expectation that the general public understands what it means to 'catch' something. the action on the screen was instantly tested against a public understanding of the concept of a 'catch' and showed that the conclusion reached by the official was in error.

Think back to the Chargers/Bronco's game a couple years ago when Cutler fumbled the ball near the chargers end-zone but Ed Hocculi blew his wistle and ruled that it was an incomplete pass, stopping the clock and leaving Denver with possession. As I recall, he basically apologized over the loudspeaker while explaining that, even though he messed up, the rules say this and that, and thus the call must stand.

Why didn't the NFL take the same approach? that's my point. The Ref signaling Touchdown messed up. It happens. Apologize for it, but explain that the rules were followed after that point and the rules, by themselves, are still good to go for future games.

What they shouldn't have done is give a 1/2 answer, which is what I read in their statement. All they talk about is how the rules were followed after the ref's judgement error was made. In my opinion they're ignoring the biggest issue on the table, which is the public's dissatisfaction with the independent and individual decisions made by the replacement refs.

by RickD :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 1:50pm

The NFL is "supporting the decision to not overturn the TD." That's what the headline says at NFL.com. What it doesn't say is that it supports the initial call of a TD.
They admit that Tate should have been called for OPI. That's a tiny step forward.
It would be nice if they said that
a) In retrospect, the side judge (or whoever that was) should not have called a TD.
b) In retrospect, the referee should have discussed the situation with all the officials who had a view of the play. They should have come up with an interception. Instead, the referee simply accepted the judgment of one official while ignoring the judgment of the other official and then headed straight to the videotape. Perhaps he thought he could let the videotape make the ruling? If that's true, then he didn't understand the rules well enough. We never had a clear call from the referee about what the ruling on the field was until after they had done a video review.

by MJK :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:02pm

So a few stupid things here:

* So "joint possession" is reviewable in the endzone, but not in the field of play? Why oh why not? That's like saying getting two feet down is reviewable in the end zone but not in the field of play. If you think you can use replay to determine the correctness of the call, why would you only make it legal to do some sometimes? And if you think replay is too suspect to decide something in the field of play, why would you allow it in the endzone, where things matter even more?

It's kind of like the FG reviewability that came up after SNF. You can review if a ball is clearly "in" or "out", but you can't review it if the ball is "on the line". So in otherwords, you can use replay to determine if a FG is good or not if it clearly is good or not, but not if it's close... Huh?

* I have never, never, never understood why certain things that can be seen very clearly on replay aren't reviewable. Why isn't the lack of a call reviewable? Why is it that the NFL can go back and look at film and decide to fine a player based on, say, a personal foul that didn't get called, but the refs on the field aren't allowed to look at replay and enforce a penalty for the same personal foul? If we're intentionally going to stick our head in the sand an not use replay to fix things that it can fix, why even bother having replay?

* I agree that this isn't the worst call of all time, but it was definitely a bad call. In realtime it looks like the GB player has clear possession. Only on replay can you tell that Tate gets a hand on it, but it's still clear that he never really had possession, at least not until after the players hit the ground at the earliest. The live call should have been INT, and even though it wasn't, there's probably enough evidence to overturn it on replay. The NFL is refusing to because it would be a tacit admission that their replacement refs changed the outcome of a game, which would reduce their leverage with the ref's unions. The decision not to overturn has nothing to do with the merits of the actual play you can see on film.

Similarly, though this wasn't the most terrible call ever, it was still a bad call. And a bad call that decides a game will come across worse to fans than one that doesn't. Especially if the bad call comes on the heels of a game full of truly terrible calls. And especially especially if that game comes on the heels of a weekend full of games full of terrible calls.

If the replacement refs had blown just this one call, and been fantastic for the rest of the season, the response would be "well, maybe even the real refs would have missed that one. Thems the breaks". But because the replacement refs have been so putrid so far, making a game deciding bad call magnifies things much beyond how hard or how bad the call really was.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:13pm

I think the NFL video review system is terrible; in my view, there should be a guy in the booth, who is not part of the zebra union, who should be making the review calls, and who have far more leeway to overturn calls than is currently the case. I don't think he should be able to call or retract penalities, however, because it simply is too large a can of worms, what with the potential for offensive holding on every snap, or illegal contact with receivers on every pass.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:23pm

With the FG thing there really isn't a good way to review that, without putting cameras under the goal posts, which they don't have. It should be reviewable of they should put laser pointers on top of the goal posts that they turn on for kicks that would make reviews/calls easier. Just rule if it's over the post (breaks the beam) that it's good. Or at least that is why I think they say that type of kick isn't reviewable.

As to why some things aren't subject to review at all, the argument I hear is they don't want replay to impact the flow/speed of the game. If more things were reviewable, especially with the way the current review process works could easily make games with the regular refs take as long as they are with the current scabs. Now there are ways to implement review that wouldn't impact as much. The NCAA with the booth official has worked pretty well and not had a huge impact. I think the NFL could do well by the fans by doing something like this.

I agree with the complaints about somethings being reviewable in the endzone and not the field of play though, that annoys me.

by RickD :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:33pm

I think it's highly unlikely that a FG call like the one at the end of the Pats-Ravens game would be overturned. But I don't understand why the NFL has to preclude such a possibility by writing into the rules that it's not reviewable. If it's almost certainly not going to be overturned, just let the replay official look at it and say so.

Maybe someday an official blows a call when the ball is clearly five feet wide and it could be overturned.

I remember a few years back in a Browns game when a field goal when over the cross bar, hit the post, and bounced back. The rules said it should have been a FG, but the refs ruled it as a miss, and at that point they weren't even allowed to review that! Why? Because the NFL has cut out certain categories of plays as "unlikely to be reversed" and declared them "don't review them." I guess they want to save time or something. But after that blown call, the NFL said "yes, ok, you can review FGs". But apparently not all FGs.

by Jerry :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 7:31pm

Since there's a specific prohibition of reviewing above the uprights field goals, the league must have discussed it. Maybe they felt like it was too hard to determine in 2-D. (Don't forget that Sunday was NBC's full presentation; the bottom of Fox's Sunday lineup doesn't have nearly the cameras available.)

by gparker1515 :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:12pm

They should make the field goal posts longer. I have metal poles and yellow paint in my garage and I'll do it for free.

by DEW (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:17pm

...I think that FO may be the only sports site where any writer is willing to admit that "simultaneous possession" was not "THE WORST JUDGMENT CALL EVER!!!!!" From ESPN to Fox to Yahoo, all the major online media is out for blood: Goodell, the replacement officials, everything.

(I also would like if the league would just stand up and say the following, if they really intend to support the replacement officials: "Under the rule for simultaneous possession, it does not matter if one of the two possessors has greater control of the ball than the other. The issue is only that two players on opposing teams achieved some measure of control before either one could achieve complete control. In this case, having one arm and a hand is as good, for the purpose of the rule, as having two hands and the ball clutched to the chest." And if that's NOT the rule, then they should say outright that the wrong call was made on the field, regardless of the fact that once it was made then it could not be overturned on replay. But I don't see anything in the letter of the rule which says that "simultaneous" has to be equal in amount of control over the ball, it only has to be equal in time.)

There were plenty of officiating flubs throughout the second half over which the replacement crew should be rightly excoriated. If the Seahawks had scored on the drive after which Shields drew that awful, awful DPI call (which was blatant OPI against Rice), then the screaming and hollering would be justified. But to treat the final play of the game as the End of the World signifying the last straw in the, er refpocalypse, seems unjustified, given that:

1) Yes, there was OPI. Looking at this thread, the last time OPI was called on a Hail Mary was...1991? Do we really expect the replacements to call something that is called once a generation?

2) Ugly as it looks, by the letter of the rule, simultaneous possession may well have been the correct call. The rule may be badly written, and the replay system rules may be equally badly written, but it's not the officials' fault that the rules are bad.

by RickD :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:36pm

So, agreeing with your opinion is "admitting," eh?

I see how that works.

It's not supposed to be "simultaneous" if one of the players has possession before the other.

by LyleNM (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:28pm

Tate's left hand is on the ball at virtually the same time as Jennings'. That pretty much defines simultaneous, doesn't it?

by rengewnad (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:16pm

^^ ignores the fact that jennings had 2 arms wrapped around the entire ball, had it tucked tightly against his chest, and looked like it would take the jaws of life to extract it.

tate had a hand on it... and was laying underneath jennings. I don't see that as joint-possession.

by LyleNM (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:57pm

Not ignoring it. It's irrelevant to whether or not one person had possession *before* the other.

Besides, if it was tucked so tightly against his chest, what happened to Tate's hand? Oh, it was still around the ball. So his hand was inside Jennings' chest? Impressive.

by Independent George :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 5:04pm

The point is that one hand does not equal possession, regardless of when it arrived there.

by tuluse :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 5:18pm

That sounds silly. Of course a player can have possession with one hand.

by Sakic (not verified) :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 9:32am

Control needs to be established before possesion. Jennings by virute of catching the ball and pulling it to his body established control therefore making it impossible for joint possession to occur. Yes, Tate gets a hand in as they are crashing to the ground but that does not mean possession occurs since control MUST happen first.

According to the rulebook it is not a sumultaneous catch is a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains control. Jennings had control first thus no simultaneous catch thus no TD.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 2:16pm

You keep saying that, but any number of pictures of Jennings in the air bending forward over Tate (with his feet on the ground) dispute that. In those frames Tate certainly appears to be in control of the ball with Jennings reaching in. Then they fall to the ground, Tate has two hands on the ball, the officials standing above them looking down. As Jennings adjusts his grip they make their call, one for the score one for the turnover. But Jennings adjusted *his* grip. The obvious inferance is that he had to if he was going to hope to secure the football, and that's probably the ultimate hair that was split when the decision needed to be made. And the reason "Tie goes to the runner" is phrase, is because those involved in the game have long known that's an impossibly fine moment with far to many variable to parse, and so in doubt they chose the offense to be awarded possession.

That moment is a fun-house mirror, in its interpretation we see a distorted reflection of ourselves, and what we expect to see. What we choose to include in our descriptions of it is far less interesting that what we elect to leave out.

by RC (not verified) :: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 10:11am

He's not ignoring it.

Its irrelevant in the context of this rule.

by Independent George :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:20pm

If Rodney Harrison pressed the ball against David Tyree's helmet, would it be an interception?

by Travis :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:30pm

No, since possession requires a "firm grip".

Rule 3-2-7-Item 1: A player is in possession when he is in firm grip and control of the ball inbounds.

Second-and-10 on B40. A1 runs with the ball to the B30 where he fumbles. In the scramble for the loose ball, B1 ends up on the ground with the ball securely held between his legs, although his hands/arms are not controlling the ball. A2 reaches down and pulls the ball from B2 and runs for a touchdown.

Ruling: Touchdown. Kickoff A35. Possession requires control with the hands or arms. (3-2-7)

by DGL :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:41pm

"since possession requires a 'firm grip'."

Hence the NFL does not have possession of reality.


by JAB (not verified) :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 1:46pm

I don't understand why having your hand on the ball and pinning it against an opposing players chest is considered control.

by JAB (not verified) :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 1:46pm

I don't understand why having your hand on the ball and pinning it against an opposing players chest is considered control.

by NYMike :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:04pm

The real issue with the terrible OPI non-call is that it meant more than 40 yards of field position and led directly to the Packers being pinned down so badly they couldn't use any of their playbook ... leading to a punt fielded on 45 yard line with 47 seconds left, and you know the rest. Put Seattle on their 15 yard line instead of the Packer 45, and we're not having this discussion.

The call at the end of the game was bad for other reasons. The official with the best angle called the play an interception. The two officials never said a word to each other. The official who didn't call the blatant OPI is the one who signaled TD. And the head referee never got involved.

What call would have been made in Green Bay?

by BigCheese :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 10:46pm

So, has anyone gone to his Facebook page and looked for pictures of him in green and blue body paint?

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by NYMike :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 9:46am

I don't think that is an issue as much as "if I say this is an interception, I don't get out of here in one piece."

by ptp (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:35pm

I don't think it's responsible to let this narrative devolve into the officiating on the final play. If you watched most of the second half of that game it should be absolutely no surprise to anyone that the officiating would be questionable. I've seen a lot of people say that Seattle stole or got away with one, but if you apply *any* of the miscalled or uncalled penalties on GB in their TD drive, they settle for either a field goal or nothing at all, and Seattle kicks a FG from 22 yards out to win on that final drive, rather than a hail mary.

I'm bitter because I was extremely proud to see my team represent so well for most of the game, and the final decisive 15-20 game minutes are like everyone busted out some d20 to see who could roll a better Save vs Replacement.

by RickD :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 2:39pm

..and just yesterday somebody was arguing that we shouldn't be upset and that bad officiating was just adding more randomness to the game and that we should embrace the extra D6s thrown into the process.

Randomness doesn't make for an exciting spectator sport.

by DL (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:02pm

I think the tsunami of defensive holding and OPI calls, that for some reason seem to have spiked this last two weeks (is there somewhere I can check this up?), and the phantom DPI calls that kept dead drives alive in several games (Pats-Ravens, for example) plus the Mundy no-call were worse than this call.

It's still a bad call, but the rules regarding a complete pass in the endzone are so complicated as they are that I'm not sure that with the other refs there would still be some controversy about it, though I think they would have called interception since Jennings had more control of the ball and Tate grabbed after Jennings had possession.

by NYMike :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:06pm

Exactly right. The reason simultaneous possession is irrelevant is that Jennings had the ball FIRST, and never surrendered possession.

by mpk (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:54pm

Pro-football-reference has penalty stats week-by-week: http://pfref.com/years/2012/penalties.htm

by Marko :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:05pm

What I haven't really seen or heard people talk about was how the call on the last play was influenced by the fact that the game was in Seattle. Imagine if everything had been the same except the game had been played in Green Bay. Does anyone doubt that the call on the last play would have been an interception by Jennings?

It kind of reminds me of the story (which may very well be a myth/urgan legend) about the ruling on the Immaculate Reception. I can't remember if the story comes from John Madden or someone from the Raiders' front office, but in the confusion after the play, the referee supposedly called someone upstairs at Three Rivers Stadium to ask how many security guards he could have to escort him him from the field if he ruled that the play was an incomplete pass. When he was told that he could have only 6 security guards, he supposedly said, "Six? Then it's 6 for Pittsburgh!" as he raised his hands to signal a touchdown.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:26pm

John Clayton actually had a pretty good article on this and relating it to last night. http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/8422558/technological-advances-decisio...

He pretty much agrees with you, just adds some of his first hand experiences to it all.

by Marko :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:57pm

Thanks for the link.

by dryheat :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:59pm

More troubling would be gambling ties. An awful lot of money switched hands on that ruling.

by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:24pm

I'm not that worried about gambling ties throwing the outcome of a game. I mean, that's pretty incompetent game-throwing if you need to have a Hail Mary caught to get the outcome you want. And -- as the NBA has shown -- a smart gambler with a crooked ref won't try and affect the winner; they'll bet heavy on the over/under, since the ref can easily influence that without favoring one team or the other too blatantly. A thought that did cross my mind during a few of the PI/illegal contact/roughing the passer calls during the NE-Balt game, but I digress.

Now, intimidated by the crowd (possibly unconsciously) into calling it for the Seahawks, that I'd buy.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 7:50pm

FWIW, the gambling implications are huge. GB started as a 4.5 point favorite, which closed to 3 points as game time approached. I don't know the final point spread, but in either case it was the difference between a bet won or lost. I don't believe that gambling had anything to do with the final outcome. I just like goading the conspiracy theorists.

by Dean :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 3:32pm

I really wish the NFL's statement had been "Fuck You."

by johonny (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:01pm

I'm pretty sure that IS the official translation of this statement. As long as sucker fans watch this mess they don't care. It's week three my fav team sucks, the games go on forever and baseball playoffs and NBA are around the corner. See you later NFL until you raise your standards back to a professional level. That should be the official fan statement back. Fuck them I don't need football.

by Eddo :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:04pm

Eh, I still like football. I'm OK with some blown calls - my overall enjoyment hasn't really changed much.

by rengewnad (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:13pm

wasn't it?

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:16pm

It isn't like you to disagree with the owners but I wholeheartedly agree.

By not stopping this mess they have, as a group, forever forfeited the right to claim to be custodians of the game. All they care about is the money and in this case they're so ignorant that they can't even see that the small amount of money they would have to give up is dwarfed by the monetary value of the loss of integrity from this wretched episode.

Goodell is paid an astonishing $6 million per annum, which is twice the amount that the officials want. Take it out of his salary or just fire him for presiding over one disaster after another. (It isn't as if he could remotely match that compensation if they fired him or that they couldn't find another person willing to do his job for a tenth of that, even a hundredth, as he doesn't really do anything.)

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:43pm

There is not a shred of evidence that this wretched episode will cost the owners a single penny, and anyone who has ever been under the impression that any consideration of the owners' is within a parsec of their primary consideration, money, simply hasn't been paying attention.

Again, why people think that Roger Goodell is doing something that the owners who pay him 11 million a year (I think you shorted him) don't want him to do, is very puzzling. Roger Goodell isn't going to be fired. The people who pay him his salary think he is doing a great job. Why shouldn't they? He's just following instructions.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 6:11pm

I've been getting pretty angry, I usually catch up on the sunday and monday night games but I didn't bother this week and I only watched one game on sunday which is unusual for me. I only watched the condensed footage of the monday night game to see what all the fuss was about. I love the NFL and it's turning me off. A friend asked me if I wanted to go to the Wembley game but we decided it just wasn't worth it, we'd have to get the tickets now and there's every chance the game would be another omnishambles.

What we are seeing is decidedly not the best product that they can put on the field, a stance taken on purpose. "The NFL, nearly as good as we can make it" isn't the best strap line.

by Dean :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 5:21pm

I wouldn't say I'm pro owner or pro official on this one. I've deliberately not tried to pay too close attention to the details. I can understand the officials wanting a pension and I can understand the owners not wanting to give it to them. I don't really have an opinion one way or another as to who is "right." I guess I'm still too fried from Players vs. Owners?

What bothers me, though, is Big Media (and in this case, I will explicitly include FO in this statement) creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. They decided long before the first games were played that The Narrative would be these dastardly replacement officials. The Media Entertainment Complex then promptly put these officials under incredible scrutiny. Every judgement call is a bad call that would have somehow been miraculously better had the "real" officials been in place. It's no wonder we are where we are. Even the "real" officials could NEVER function effectively under the pressures and stresses to which the replacements have been subjected. Thus, The Narrative writes itself.

And as usual, we the fans suffer. If ESPN and its cohorts were not trying to force their agenda on us, and were willing to let the games play out, we'd see a much better product. And that's really what I want. I just want to see good football.

There were many posters on this site (and some employees) who said they WANTED to see the replacements step on their crank. To them, I ask, ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?

by Steve in WI :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 5:38pm

Like you, I'm not necessarily for one side or the other when it comes to the labor dispute. (I see both sides as people who are already incredibly well-compensated for what they do).

However, I completely disagree that this has been a self-fulfilling prophecy or that the problem has been exaggerated. While the game last night hinged on a disputed call that arguably could have been made by one of the regular officials, most of the complaints have been about just plain ineptness. Allowing a coach to challenge when he has no timeouts, marking off a 27 yard penalty instead of a 15 yarder because the ref forgot what side of the field he was on, taking several minutes and interrupting the flow of the game to get basic calls right - these are things that I think anyone would say can be attributed to the quality of the officials on the field right now.

by Dean :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 5:47pm

Steve, I'm not saying that the problem has been exagerated. I'm not saying the mistakes weren't avoidable. I'm saying that the replacement officials have been placed in an untentable position. These mistakes, as bad as they have been, could easily be made by our regular officials if you'd subjected them to the same extraordinary circumstances. After all, like Will Allen pointed out, the regular officials have screwed up the coin toss.

If you get in the grill and yell "Don't Fumble" at a rooke RB in his first training camp every day, you shouldn't be surprised when he goes out and fumbles. The coach in this situation has set his player up for failure.

We're talking about human beings with the best of intentions and the worst of circumstances.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 5:52pm

Can you point me to an article before the preseason started that shows the extraordinary pressure you claim the media subjected them to? This isn't a rhetorical question, by the way, since as I have said, I don't really pay attention to the national media.

by Jimmy :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 5:41pm

There were many posters on this site (and some employees) who said they WANTED to see the replacements step on their crank. To them, I ask, ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?

This Bears fan is laughing his arse off.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 5:49pm

"They decided long before the first games were played that The Narrative would be these dastardly replacement officials."

Do you remember what the reaction after the first week was? It was that the replacement refs weren't doing too bad, and certainly better than their performance in the preseason. From what I saw, it looked like they were slightly worse than what regular refs would've done. If your hypothesis was true, that slight difference would've been magnified out of proportion, but it wasn't.

And so, with lesser pressure on them after the first week, they go out and perform noticeably worse in the second. That doesn't fit in with your theory either.

Finally, one of the biggest issues is not whether they get judgment calls right. Many people have pointed out that regular refs get them wrong all the time too. It's that they don't have control of the game and respect of the players. They take far too long getting what should be simple calls right, have to be corrected by players as to which side got penalized, and can be tricked by coaches that exploit their lack of full understanding of the rule book. It's bad enough that they get calls wrong, but at least there's a possibility that they even out. When the players, coaches and crowd can influence the game to the extent we saw this week, it becomes unbearable.

The real officials would never be under the pressure these refs are currently under because they wouldn't have done such a screw-up of the preseason games. I don't have cable and didn't even read much about the fact that there were replacement refs in the first place; I formulated my opinion of them just by watching them, and I'm sure many others, including those in the media, did as well.

I want to see good football too. Are you saying that it's the media and not the refs that are preventing us from seeing it?

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 6:03pm

I'm not sure I agree with your premise. While I don't agree with the stance that the league has taken, before the preseason I wasn't sure about the ability of replacement officials, I didn't think refereeing could be so difficult that reasonably experienced refs from lower divisions couldn't do it. Then in preseason everything seemed to be fine, the replacements did a good job, which continued for the most part into week one. I think the breakdown has been to a large extent caused by the players and coaches looking to take every advantage that they can find in pushing the officials to their limits and now we have a situation where the officiating is approaching collapse. It isn't every play because there isn't a big decision on every play but they are consistently getting things wrong and that's before you look at the basic procedural stuff they're messing up. Holding is now legal on both sides of the ball, OPI and DPI are interchangeable and personal fouls/player protection is enforced in a sporadic fashion.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 6:21pm

"Then in preseason everything seemed to be fine, the replacements did a good job, which continued for the most part into week one."

That's not what I remember. Week one was pretty good, certainly, but preseason was significantly less so:


I distinctly remember people being pleasantly surprised after week 1 because the preseason reffing was so below par. And then it got worse from there.

by steveNC (not verified) :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 2:01pm

Yes, some of this has been quite amusing.

by CHE (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:19pm

My understanding is that a player does not have possession until he has both feet (or some other body part) on the ground. In this case it appears possible if not probable that Tate had both hands on the ball before Jennings second foot hits the ground. (Jennings second foot doesn't hit the ground until they are both almost lying on the ground.) It doesn't matter that Jennings got to the ball "first" or had better position. The rules for simultaneous catch seem to apply. Where am I wrong?

by Dan :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:31pm

"Control" just means having the ball firmly in your hands. A catch is only simultaneous if both players got control of the ball at the same time; if one player controlled the ball first then it is not a simultaneous catch (even if the other player gained control before the first player completed the catch). See the example from the 2011 NFL Casebook, given by Travis above, of "A.R. 8.29 NOT A SIMULTANEOUS CATCH".

by CHE (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:38pm


by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:37pm

Posting this from the Week 3 Discussion thread:

As a Packers fan, my take is obviously biased. (If you want to read a Seahawks' fan take, read the other thread.)

Now, I feel the first half was played well by both sides, and ref'd correctly. There was nothing that was ridiculous to the point of complaining. I think everybody can agree with that.

However, the second half was like watching a completely different game. Poor calls on both sides, blatant fouls going missed (Browner trying to go all Miami-face-eater on Jennings), the k-ball on the 2-point conversion, and of course the final play.

None of those things would have mattered if the Packers played better, and that is an issue the team needs to sort out. I think that will be the Packers organization response to this game going forward. It needs to be. The defense put on a great performance, and if their offense can even have half the production of last year, this team could be among the best in the NFL at the end of the season.

Specifically to the last play, as many people say, simultaneous possession is the big issue here. Do I think Jennings had full control and Tate had full control TOGETHER at some point? Yes. That was a very short moment, and it was not immediately. If Tate had been trying to control that ball on his own, he would have lost it. That is the crux of the play. He was forced to use Jennings' body to secure possession, and that essentially defaults his actual possession. There was no continuation for Tate. And I agree that even the normal refs could have missed that.

My biggest problem with the call is that there was no conference. The back judge and the side judge stared at each other before making separate calls. It was almost as if one asked with his eyes "Was that a touchdown?" and the other answered with his eyes "Yes, it was an interception." They agreed on "Was that a ________?" with "Yes, it was a/an ________." Fill in the blanks with two different words, and that causes the mass confusion. That is what bugs me most about the call.

Also, I can take from all of this that Golden Tate is a scumbag.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 6:09pm

"Now, I feel the first half was played well by both sides... I think everybody can agree with that."

As a Packers and recent Seahawks fan, I strongly disagree with that. No matter how good a defense is, there is no excuse for a quarterback to suffer 8 sacks. A 26 to 4 pass to run ratio? That's not good playcalling at all, especially considering how well the run worked in the second half.

As for Seattle's offense, Wilson is still taking off too quickly when he senses pressure. Now, it's highly likely, considering his receivers' lack in being able to gain separation and the inadequate performance of the offensive line, at least relative to Matthews, that he'll get sacked anyways (consider that Green Bay's offense practically mirrored Seattle's in these aspects), so perhaps his throwaways helped save some field position. However, you saw that later on in the game, Green Bay started game-planning for his scrambles to the right, so he'll have to shake off that habit to some degree.

Also, I wasn't a fan of Seattle's run, run, incomplete pass, punt offense. Lynch did well, but even the best running backs don't average 5 yards per run, and Seattle needs to become much more unpredictable than that. They tried it against Dallas and it worked because the Cowboys kept screwing themselves on third down, but it won't work against more disciplined opponents. Other than the final drive, Wilson went 5-6 for 70 yards and a touchdown when throwing on first down, and Seattle needs to do that more often.

by evenchunkiermonkey :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:46pm

Ahh, the NFL's revisionist history.

This Week In Quotes is gonna be awesome.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 4:55pm

I suppose there's no chance that Seahawks fans will stop bleating about being jobbed by the refs in XL, is there?

by EricL (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 6:01pm


by AT (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 5:05pm

What can we learn from this?

For the umpteenth time defenders should BAT THE BALL TO THE GROUND ON HAIL MARY PLAYS!!!!!

If Jennings had followed that simple advice his team would have won and there would be no controversy today.

by Dean :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 5:12pm

Wow. This actually is probably the most insightful comment on the entire thread. Yet somehow, amongst all the noise, the fundamentals of football have been lost.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 5:37pm

Except many times when they bat at it an offensive player is right there to catch it. I've begun to think that the conventional wisdom is wrong and that defenders really should just go for the pick.

by Dean :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 5:42pm

I can think of exactly one time when that happened, and by coincidence, the offensive player had fallen down and had the ball batted to him. I want to say it was Jax vs Houston?

If anyone can provide a laundry list of examples, I'm all ears, though I suspect this is much like the prevent defense. We remember the exceptions specifically because they are so noteworthy and we ignore the majority because they are so routine.

by dbostedo :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 7:30pm

It just happened this week in the Titans/Lions game.

by Dean :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 1:29pm

Maybe this is worth a study?

Compile all the Hail Mary's attempted over the last "X" years. Determine how many of them had some sort of "crowd" around the ball. How many were caught, how many were intercepted, how many were batted, and for kicks, how many pass interferance flags.

I'm still suspicious that we're remembering outliers because they're so noteworthy, but it sounds like there's at least enough outliers to make it worth taking a look.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 3:38pm

Part of that study was already done by one of the ESPN Bloggers.


66 Hail Mary's since the start of 2009. 22 of them have been intercepted, 5 completed. It doesn't have information about the exact situations, but it's a start.

by Dean :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 4:58pm

It doesn't really answer the question, but at least it's a step. We'd need a lot more data than those 66 attempts in order to get a decent sample size of balls that were batted down vs those that were caught after being batted and a sample of those that were taken away by a receiver while a DB attempts to intercept. I suspect both are going to be very small fractions, so even going back 10 years might not give us enough data to be meaningful. On the other hand, you'd get to see a bunch of exciting finishes as a reward for the work.

by Marko :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 7:46pm

As noted below by Arkaein and above by dbostedo, it happened on Sunday in the Lions-Titans game. I know it also happened at the end of the first half in the Chiefs-Bears game last year, when Brian Urlacher and Chris Conte of the Bears ended up knocking the ball down right into the arms of Dexter McCluster, who walked in for the TD. Either one of them could have intercepted the ball easily, as there was no offensive player jumping with them. But since they obviously had been coached to "knock it down," they didn't try to catch it. The result was disastrous and cost the Bears the game. (It was the only TD of the game as the Chiefs won, 10-3. It was the second game for the Bears after Jay Cutler's injury, and it also was the game in which Matt Forte hurt his knee and was knocked out for the year.)

I think the point is that if you can catch it and are not in a crowd, catch it. But don't try to catch it if you are in a crowd. But if you try to bat it or knock it down, make sure you do it where no opposing player is. As Herm Edwards explained on ESPN today in showing the Lions-Titans Hail Mary, you need to have someone covering the trailer (the guy who is waiting to catch the ball if it is tipped/knocked down). On this play, Seattle didn't have a trailer (this must be because Russell Wilson called the wrong play in the huddle, as I read today), so knocking it down would have been a much better strategy.

by BigCheese :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 10:59pm

And, you know, the #1 scoring play from last season as run by the NFL netwrok Red Zone adds over, and over again? Jacksonville vs Houston.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by Zieg (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 8:50pm

The problem is because the conventional defensive wisdom is to bat it down, the new offensive wisdom is to have guys go up for it and others stand in front of the play to catch it if its batted. Other than the example on Saturday the only other one I remember is the Jacksonville (I think) one from a couple years ago and they specifically said after that play that they coached receivers to do just that.

by Arkaein :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 5:45pm

I can't believe how many times this nonsense has been posted today.

Did nobody watch the highlights of the Lions vs. Titans? Did nobody see the Hail Mary from a single day earlier where the defender tried to do exactly what was described, and had it land right in the hands of a receiver?

And in that case the Titans defender was not even contested for the deflection. Anyone who thinks that MD Jennings could have simply batted the ball down as a routine play when he and Tate both touched the ball near simultaneously at the height of their jumps is divorced from reality.

Batting down a Hail Mary is not the 100% guaranteed defensive play some people think it is.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 5:58pm

It's also easier said than done as you need to bat it down, and bat it down hard to an open area, because there are so many people around that just hitting it or mis hitting it will be more like a tip and make it potentially easier for the other team. Then you have to against your more frequently coached instincts as a defender that are to try and catch any ball you can get two hands on. Trying to catch it is better in most situations, and if you fail it usually results in at least a pass defensed in most every other play.

Yes defenders are coached to bat it down, but they are also coached to catch it, way more frequently, and as pretty much every NFL player tells you, you practice things until they become instinctual because if you have to think you are too slow. Situational awareness is hugely important, yes, and the great players have it. But most players aren't great, most are working their tails off to be what they are, and if they could handle doing the right thing in every situation they wouldn't be a back-up safety like MD Jennings.

Yes, he likely should have batted it (it's possible the GB coaches don't coach it that way though, I don't know), and he did have some room to bat it. The ref should have also called the play correctly and he had the clear line of sight to do so. No one is perfect.

by TimK :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 7:30pm

There might even be a case in a Hail Mary situation to bat it high and behind you. Given the angle and speed of the ball and the way everyone scrums together (except, with a well drilled offence one or two receivers who stay front for the bat down) something high and behind if it does not carry out the back of the endzone is probably most likely to go away from everyone.

I've jumped up as DB to knock a ball down myself, many years ago, only to have a opponent make a sliding grab at my feet. All I could do then was shake his hand as I helped him up.

by Theo :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 5:56pm

that's on 4th down plays because you get the ball at the LOS

by polyorchid :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 6:08pm

The NFL is saying that the simultaneous control rule in the end zone is reviewable. The NFL is saying they support the non-reversal. The NFL is saying there isn't indisputable evidence that Jennings controlled the ball first or otherwise that it wasn't a simultaneous controlling of the ball.

I suppose it depends on what you mean by "indisputable." It is always physically possible to dispute something. I can even dispute that 2+2=4. It's disputable in the sense that it is physically possible to say about it, "Hey I dispute that and I think 2+2 equals pi."

It isn't possible to dispute in the sense that there is any possibility that it could ever be true that 2 plus 2 equals something other than 4 though. And that is very nearly the sense in which there was indisputable evidence that the wrong call was made on the field, that the wrong call was made on review, and that the NFL's purported "support" of those calls is indisputably stupid.

I think what actually happened is that the ref making the original call, and the ref reviewing it (not sure if it was the same person or not), actually didn't know what the rule was, and thought the "tie goes to the receiver" rule was more of a simultaneous catch rule than what it actually is which is a simultaneous control rule, and the NFL is really embarrassed because its replacement refs actually didn't know a key rule that they needed to know to decide the result of a game properly. They must have thought that what matters is whether one or multiple people are controlling the ball once the catch is completed.

Either that, or the particular individuals responsible for the NFL's statement actually don't understand the rule.

This whole thing was truly bizarre to begin with, but this statement makes it much more so.

Forget about the pass interference--that's just distracting. Penalty calls are missed all the time, especially that call in that situation, and who cares.

This is about what was clearly an interception being ruled a catch because of referees that, I suspect, don't actually know some of the NFL rules, now being "supported" by a clearly very weird NFL statement. This whole thing is really, really weird.

by alljack (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 6:53pm

The emperor has no clothes.

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 7:52pm

I link to this:

Eventually on this play in the picture; Austin wrestled the ball from Cromartie and it was ruled a simultaneous catch. But Cromartie has the ball against his chest!

You can see the replay if you search for "Miles Austin Steals It!" on Youtube. Notice how quickly the officials make the call (the regular officials); when they are fighting for the ball. You can't tell who has it, its a simultaneous catch. Even though Cromartie had it first... even as they hit the ground Austin only has his hands on the ball...

by 3.141592653 not... :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 8:34pm

Seattle fans off again on again love affair with NFL refs is a thing to behold.

by Theo :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 4:23am

7 years of tears, 7 years of laughter

by Will Allen :: Tue, 09/25/2012 - 8:45pm

I cannot believe Phil Luckett was one of the guys in the booth reviewing the replay.

by t.d. :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 12:21am

The controversy should be about the failure of instant replay to remedy the situation, not the call itself

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 4:09am

No, it really should be on the call itself. Or at least the way the call was handled.

Two refs ran over to the play. They both looked at it for a moment, then one signaled TD, and one signaled interception. Think about this for a moment. The two refs ran over. Were a few feet apart. Never mouthed one word to each other. And made two separate calls.

The problem isn't just that the refs don't know the rules, or that the players don't respect them. The refs also don't know how to work together, either.

by RC (not verified) :: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 10:29am

Both of them being close, having a clear view, and having opposite conclusions seems like pretty good evidence for the "Simultaneous catch" ruling to me.

by dryheat :: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 11:44am

I think it's better evidence for at least one of them not knowing the rules.

by Coaldale Joe :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 12:25am

Well, I'm voting with my feet(so to speak), I'll resume watching the NFL when they resume producing a professional product. Fortunately, I got the Sunday Ticket for free this year, so it's not going to cost me anything to turn off the TV. If we as fans want this crap to end, we should just turn off our TV's this week.

by tsmonk (not verified) :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 9:40am

I agree. No NFL for me until this is fixed. College suits me just fine.

by tsmonk (not verified) :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 9:43am

Er, the college game that is. Quite some years since I matriculated.

by Independent George :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 10:18am

They have a pill for that now.

No, that joke NEVER gets old. Because I'm twelve.

by Jim D (not verified) :: Wed, 09/26/2012 - 2:32pm

According to this the regular refs are very close to coming back: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/8427652/locked-nfl-referees-return-ear...

by evenchunkiermonkey :: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 3:20am

YAY! These Jobbers are out and the real refs are back!

This whole thing was the basement of the pawn shop in Pulp Fiction. The fans and players are Marcellus Wallace, Roger Godell is the Gimp, The Owners are the guy who calls Zed, and the replacement officials are Zed. I'm just sad it took Bruce Willis 3 months to come back downstairs with the katana.


by andrew :: Sat, 09/29/2012 - 1:41am

It figures OPI never gets called on hail mary plays.

They didn't call it the Staubach-Pearson play that is generally known as "the hail mary pass".

by Insancipitory :: Sat, 09/29/2012 - 1:57am

Michael Irving hadn't invented Offensive Pass Interferance yet.