Tuesday, September 25, 2012

NFL: Seahawks-Packers End-of-Game Play Making Rounds

Down a score, NFL's Seattle Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers 14-12 thanks to a successful Hail Mary play at the end of regulation during Monday Night Football... or was it?
The New York Post portrays its opinion

From newspaper headlines to ESPN and FOX Sports talk shows, Twitter, Facebook and even MLB.com's new 140 Club, the replacement officials making the call(s) in the end zone found themselves as football culture's newest poster children for settling the NFLRA's labor dispute with the League.

The Play: As time expired, Seattle QB Russell Wilson threw a deep 24-yard pass to WR Golden Tate, who jockeyed with Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings for position in the air. As the two players fell to the ground, side judge Lance Easley signaled a touchdown as back judge Derrick Rhone-Dunn siglaned to stop the clock. After a brief discussion, referee Wayne Elliott ruled "touchdown," while the replay official Howard Slavin affirmed the call on the field.

The Rule: Rule 8-1-3 of the NFL Rule Book is the relevant citation:
If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players 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. 
Mechanics Analysis: Non-withstanding the play itself, the first component of analysis regarding this play pertains to the mechanics employed by Easley and Rhone-Dunn. As explained by former NFL referee Jim Tunney, both officials were further away from the play, initially, than is generally preached.

Second, of course, is the perception that two different calls were made by the officials. Technically, this is correct. Easley called "touchdown," while Rhone-Dunn called "timeout." Contrary to popular fan belief, an interception in the end zone is not signaled by simply stopping the clock. Because this interception would have resulted in a touchback, the proper mechanic would have been that of a touchback, wherein one arm is waved above the head, or "half" of the timeout signal). Because Rhone-Dunn signaled "timeout" so as to stop the game clock (apparently unaware that time had already expired, effectively making this mechanic unecessary), it is apparent Rhone-Dunn desired further investigation of the play before rendering a verdict whereas Easley, from his angle, found sufficient evidence of a simultaneous catch with which to call a Rule 8-1-3 touchdown. At no point, however, did either official signal an interception.

The Call: Because the officials were further away from the play than is prescribed, one may conclude that their angle with which to see this play was wider, so that the officials may have seen more action surrounding the final scrum. Unfortunately, in real time, neither official saw the offensive pass interference that preceded the final jump (Tate shoving Packers CB Sam Shields), a common uncalled penalty—even amongst "regular" officials—during Hail Mary plays. This penalty, had it been called, would have ended the game.

Nonetheless, video evidence suggests Jennings (Packers) attempted to catch the ball first while still in the air; however, he was airborne as he attempted to gain possession and as he fell to the ground, video evidence is ultimately inconclusive as to whether Tate (Seattle) gained simultaneous possession prior to Jennings gaining sole control of the football; upon instant replay review, the call on the filed was upheld, not confirmed.

Three elements are required of a catch (8-1-3): (1) The player must secure control of the ball before the ball touches the ground; (2) The player must touch the ground inbounds (with both feet or non-hand parts of the body); (3) The player must maintain control of the ball long enough to complete a game-action, such as a pitch, pass, advancement, juke, etc.

When a player goes to the ground with a football, he furthermore must maintain control throughout the process of contacting the ground (e.g., until his momentum-inspired movement has ceased) (8-1-3-1).

31 comments :

wwjd said...

All I can say is that was a horribly bad call and hopeful it doesn't ccost the packers a playoff spot

Will said...

I'm a Seahawk fan and I have to say that game was poorly officiated the whole game for both teams. Hate to see a call like that affect a game for any team

Lee Esbin said...

I happen to be a football official, and... by the book, as opposed to the way that most fans/announcers look at games... they got it right. The receiver got his hands on the ball, in his grasp, along with the defender, before four feet hit the ground. By rule... simultaneous catch... touchdown.

Anonymous said...

Third game of season- really cost the Packers a playoff sport. I kind of doubt it. The officials just favor the home teams so the crowd likes them rather than being fair.

Lee Esbin- there was a definite pushoff from Tate on Shields that would have been enforced, therefore ending the game.

Anonymous said...

"This penalty, had it been called, would have ended the game." I think, ultimately, this is what it boils down to. A blown OPI call that gave Seattle a TD. I could care less about the catch itself as, yes, an argument could be made either way for it being simultaneous or it being intercepted. It's not entirely conclusive one way or the other. But this is a play in which pass interference was missed and that's what decided the game. Sad, but it's no different than any other blown call at the end of a game. "Regular" officials could also make this kind of mistake.

SJR said...

I agree with media members who feel that these replacement referees are doing the best that they can, but are way over their head. Each week that goes by seems to give the NFLRA more leverage in negotiations.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't simultaneous catch. Jennings had the ball and Tate didn't. The officials were in the wrong place to see the play.

Anonymous said...

Scabs...Period.

Anonymous said...

They sucked all night both ways. So did Packer O line. The scabs are receiving the embarrassment they deserve.

UmpsRule said...

I dislike the hate-filled anti-scab comments. However, hopefully this controversy is the straw that breaks the camel's back and gets the real refs back.

DD4D said...

I don't think Tate's push-off is severe, which is why it was not called. Should it have been called? Yes, but officials this year have been letting a lot of ... extra "stuff" ... happen in terms of defensive and even offensive PI. They are calling the game much differently. As for simultaneous catch, I am not so sure the defender did not come down with the ball FIRST, with Tate trying to wrench it from his hands ON the ground!

Anonymous said...

I strongly suspect that the official who indicated TD was waiting to see what his partner indicated and mistakenly thought he was going to indicate no catch. So two guys making two calls.

A guy with 2 eyes that were open during the play said...

Come on guys!! This one wasn't close....

Anonymous said...

ESPN's former referee analyst even said himself that this didn't fully meet the criteria of a simultaneous catch. The Packer defender was the first to establish control on his way down. Tate only got a hand in there as they got to the ground. After hitting the ground, Tate got two hands near the ball, but this is not simultaneous in any way.

Anonymous said...

the cofc is incorrect. if this was ejection league id challenge. by rule and experts this could not simultaneous catch

DD4D said...

At least they got the coin toss right. =)

Will said...

I won't talk about the call. However, I do not think that officials should consider a strike their "lucky break" and take on games they have not earned. I would never do that to other umpires...

W9ULK said...

Goodell has to go. NFL brand - expensive defective product. The so-called "SHIELD" of integrity is broken. The personal finances of the replacement refs working that game in Seattle are in need of review by private investigators and accountants. NFL lacks the credibility to do it.

W9ULK said...

Goodell has to go. NFL brand - expensive defective product. The so-called "SHIELD" of integrity is broken. The personal finances of the replacement refs working that game in Seattle are in need of review by private investigators and accountants. NFL lacks the credibility to do it.

BAPACop said...

@W9ULK: Questioning their ability is fine, questioning their integrity is crossing the line.

Anonymous said...

Which tells me you would probably scab.

Anonymous said...

Ummm....no it's not...you must have missed the Saints fan.

W9ULK said...

I disagree that a line was crossed by me. I feel the NFL crossed a line with the fan base and by verification of the credibility/honesty/integrity of that crew at least one question would be put to rest. They should not fear independent examination if they have nothing to hide given the circumstances. Just the way I see it.

Anonymous said...

I can't blame the officials. Some are JUCO guys being given a huge once-in-a-lifetime chance and with that, you're always going to have go-getters that will take it. The NFL offered it to them and they took it, it's human nature to want to be that level and to take the opportunity when it is presented. I don't see players turning down a shot at the pros because they think they're not good enough. The League, however, should bear responsibility for failing to adequately train the replacements. The League didn't put them in a position to succeed, rather set them up for failure, and that to me is much more striking than pointing to an official and calling him or her a scab.

W9ULK said...

BAPA - just so you know I am not young kid. I go back to the days of Barlick, Donatelli, Conlan, Gorman (Tom), Crawford (Shag). I remember Doug Harvey and Lee Weyer as rookies. I have stared down the umpire hecklers at Minor League games even when calls went against my team. This call in Seattle has shaken my foundation of respect for game officials but I understand what some are saying - the fault is with the NFL, not the guys on the field - however that whole last drive leading up to the Intercepted Touchdown had several calls or non-calls all slanted one way. Hurts the confidence level, just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

They had a choice to scab....they scabbed...they could have had integrity and respect for the real refs but they didn't. They deserve every bit of criticism and more.

UmpsRule said...

Of course, the real refs played a part in letting it get to this point by insisting on full-time level benefits to do part-time work. And remember, the real refs weren't real great either.

Anonymous said...

If I were the real refs I would have raised the stakes. Using scabs is a calculated business risk on the part of the owners. NFL refs aren't any more parttime than baseball, basketball, etc. It just happens their games are once a week. They deserve every penny.

Anonymous said...

The simultaenous rule is a bit different when it occurs in the endzone. This was a clear interception by MD Jennings. Awful call, robbed the Packers. And the roughing the passer that erased an interception on the previous drive was just as agregious.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the Packers got their TD on a drive kept alive by a bad PI call.

Lee Esbin said...

Just as a comment to those making the "scab" references. Since WHEN are unions anything good for our country or economy? Unions overinflate the costs paid for labor; they make things more expensive than the market forces would have them; they diminish the most valuable labor providers by taking a limited economic source for the poorer workers.

The only thing in sports that a union is good for is making the costs skyrocket to the consumer. The referees and players involved (and for that matter, all workers) should be paid whatever market forces require. If a person's work is valued at X dollars, then forcing an employer to pay X+1 or x*10 or x*100 dollars for that worker amounts to nothing more than extortion. The employer will pay whatever the market will bear for whatever quality he seeks.

When offered the salary by the employer, the employee has several options: (1)take the salary offered, (2) don't taking the salary offered and find work elsewhere, (3) find a career that will pay the salary he desires, or (4) create his own business in which he can make whatever salary his skills warrant.

"Scabs," as you so eloquently put it, are people who are operating within the fair market forces. Unions are nothing but a blight on our economy and one of the many steps toward Socialism that is destroying our once great nation.

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