In a bizarre ending that capped a brutal weekend for replacement officials, the Seattle Seahawks somehow beat the Green Bay Packers, 14-12, on Monday night in a game that's certain to re-ignite frustrations over the locked-out refs.
Russell Wilson threw a disputed 24-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate on the final play of the game, a game that finally ended 10 minutes later when both teams were brought back on the field for the extra point.
Wilson scrambled from the pocket and threw to the corner of the end zone as the clock expired. Tate shoved Green Bay's Sam Shields out of the way, then wrestled with M.D. Jennings for possession. It was ruled on the field as a touchdown and, after a lengthy review, referee Wayne Elliott came out from under the hood and announced, "The ruling on the field stands," and CenturyLink Field erupted in celebration.
It was nearly 10 minutes before the teams were brought back for the extra point.
The final decision is only going to fuel debate about the replacement officials coming off a weekend filled with disputed calls.
"Don't ask me a question about the officials," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. "I've never seen anything like that in all my years in football.
"I know it's been a wild weekend in the NFL and I guess we're part of it now."
And the last game of the weekend will debated more than any other.
CBSSports.com Senior Blogger Will Brinson writes, "It was always going to take a singular trainwreck of an officiating decision that drastically altered the outcome of a game for the NFL to consider caving to the league's refs," Brinson writes. "That play might've happened on Monday night, when Golden Tate "caught" a 24-yard Hail Mary from Russell Wilson to give the Seahawks a stunning 14-12 victory over the Packers.
"Couple problems though. One, you'd be stretching things to say that Tate absolutely caught the ball. Or even remotely caught the ball; M.D. Jennings quite clearly intercepted the ball. Except that leads to problem No. 2: one official ruled a touchdown, while the other ruled a touchback. They did this at the same time. ... Let's clarify this real quick, shall we? Because there might be some notion that this was a tie-goes-to-the-receiver situation. It's not. (Emphasis mine.)"
" ... Hopefully, (the final play will) be enough to warrant making some actual progress to get the regular referees back on the field. Someone finally lost a game as a result of the replacement officials and it's time to make a change."
Seattle (2-1) won its second straight, while Green Bay (1-2) and saw its streak of wins in six straight road openers snapped.
Wilson's heave came at the end of a final frantic drive after Seattle had previously missed on a fourth-down attempt from the Green Bay 7 with 2 minutes left. The turnover on downs appeared to end Seattle's hopes and cap an impressive second-half comeback by the Packers and Aaron Rodgers, who was sacked eight times -- all in the first half.
Green Bay averted disaster when John Kuhn fumbled on the Packers first play following the change of possession but center Jeff Saturday recovered. The Seahawks held and forced Green Bay to punt from the 4 with 57 seconds left. The 41-yard punt set Seattle up at the Green Bay 46 with 46 seconds remaining.
Wilson hit Sidney Rice for 22 yards on a slant then went for Tate in the end zone but the ball was batted away with 18 seconds left. He threw over the head of Evan Moore on second down leaving 12 seconds remaining and missed Tate again at the 5.
Wilson took the final snap with 8 seconds remaining. He appeared to be looking for Rice on the right side of the end zone, but rolled left and threw for Tate, who was in a crowd of three Packers defenders. His shove of Shields was obvious and it was never clear who had possession between Tate and Jennings.
Seattle instantly celebrated while the Packers argued with anyone in a striped shirt. Both teams were eventually shoved to the sidelines as Tate stomped through the end zone in celebration. Following the review, Elliott's announcement sent the stadium into delirium and even more confusion ensued until the teams finally returned to the field for the extra point.
"From what I understood from the officials, it was a simultaneous catch. Tie goes to the runner. Good call," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Rodgers had quite a different opinion.
"It was awful. Just look at the replay. And then the fact that it was reviewed, it was awful," he said. "That's all I'm going to say about it.
"We shouldn't have been in that position.
It was Tate's second touchdown of the game, after catching a 41-yard TD in the second quarter to give Seattle a 7-0 lead. He finished with three catches for 68 yards, while Wilson was 10 of 21 for 130 yards.
The Packers' frustration was almost instant. Guard T.J. Lang was even more emphatic, tweeting that the Packers were robbed "by the refs. Thanks NFL."
Green Bay shook off a disastrous first half where Rodgers was sacked eight times and completely controlled possession in the final 30 minutes. Green Bay ran 41 offensive plays in the second half, got field goals of 29 and 40 yards from Mason Crosby and Cedric Benson's 1-yard TD run with 8:44 left to take a 12-7 lead.
Others spoke their mind by tweeting.
Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman tweeted, "These games are a joke," while NBA MVP LeBron James tweeted, "I simply just LOVE the NFL too much to see these mistakes. I'm sick like I just played for the Packers."
The latest controversy came amid reports the NFL and the union for the locked out officials had met.
Two people familiar with the talks told The Associated Press the sides held negotiations Sunday. It was uncertain whether progress was made in an attempt to reach a new collective bargaining agreement, or when further negotiations would take place. The league locked out the officials in June after their contract expired.
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