The debacle of replacement refs (filling in for the pro refs currently in a lockout
) blowing calls reached its climax on tonight's tight match-up
between the Packers
and the Seahawks
. Down 12-7 and down to 8 seconds in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks had one last chance to fling a hail mary to try to win the game. QB Russell Wilson flung a long pass in the endzone towards receiver Golden Tate.
That's when a can't-miss penalty occurred. Against Seattle. Tate pushed the Packers corner Sam Shields in the back, an obvious offensive pass interference penalty. The refs missed it and when the ball landed in a messy pile of Packers defenders and Tate, it looked like Packers safety M.D. Jennings nabbed the interception. Tate was tenacious, though, and tried to haul the ball away from Jennings as they both fell to the ground.
The refs rushed to the wrestling match between Tate and Jennings, and just as one ref called an interception for the Packers, giving Green Bay the win, the other ref raised his arms with the touchdown signal, presenting Seattle with a gift unheard of in professional sports.
The touchdown call seemed to overrule everything else, and the Seahawks and the stadium erupted in cheers. Seattle won 14-12. The Packers looked dazed. Someone must have been crying; the loss was too heartbreaking not to stagger a few Green Bay players who were certain they took home the W tonight.
The real losers are the refs. And I mean that in the most literal sense. The refs truly blew it, and they when they went to check the instant replay, as all touchdown plays have to be reviewed, the call of TD stood. For some inexplicable reason.
It's understandable a few mistakes will be made by amateur refs forced to make quick decisions in seconds. We fans are treated to instant replay on TV broadcasts, so we had the luxury to see how wrong the refs were on this call - Jennings clearly had control of the ball as he was falling, while Tate merely tried to grab it away. It wasn't an easy call but it also wasn't the toughest.
I watch a lot of football and I've seen some terrible calls by refs
, this year and in every year previous. But tonight's blatant mistake should be a wake-up call to the NFL, to owners, to every fan, that error-riddled personnel will cripple a pro sport. People who pay good money to see these games deserve better refereeing; the players who risk their health to steamroll each other
deserve more qualified staff. Otherwise, this Monday Night Football bizarro incident will end up being a weekly tradition.