The furor over the work of replacement officials reached a fevered pitch during Week 3 in the NFL, especially Monday night when Seattle beat Green Bay on a desperation pass that appeared to be an interception.
Seahawks receiver Golden Tate was awarded a touchdown on the final play after a scrum on the ground in the end zone. Packers safety M.D. Jennings appeared to catch the ball against his body, with Tate getting one arm around the ball.
After a few seconds, one official indicated a stoppage of play, but another signaled touchdown for a conclusion former NFL coach Jon Gruden, working the game on TV, called “tragic” and “comical.”
Tate clearly shoved cornerback Sam Shields to the ground on the play, but as Gruden noted, offensive pass interference almost never is called on desperation passes.
Watch the unbelievable video of the final play in the Monday night game:
“Very hard to swallow,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “I have never seen anything like that in my time in football.”
The refs ruled that the wide receiver caught the game winning touchdown on a simultaneous catch with the defensive player. Only, the tape clearly shows that the defensive player, M.D. Jennings, first established possession of the football.
Here’s how the NFL official rule book defines a simultaneous catch:
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. If the ball is muffed after simultaneous touching by two such players, all the players of the passing team become eligible to catch the loose ball.
It is a call that will be talked about for days to come.
It came just one day after New England coach Bill Belichick was confused about a decisive field goal he thought was off-target and Detroit’s Jim Schwartz couldn’t understand a 27-yard penalty walk-off for unnecessary roughness.
“These games are a joke,” Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman tweeted.
McCarthy was measured in his postgame remarks.
“Most unusual football game I have been a part of,” he said. “I know it’s been a wild weekend in the NFL and I guess we are part of it.”
Speaking after the game, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was a little more straightforward, saying the replacement refs’ call at the end of the game was “awful.”
Packers guard T.J. Lang was even more emphatic, tweeting that the Packers were “f**ked by the refs. Thanks NFL.” He followed up that profane tweet with another that said, “F**k it NFL.. Fine me and use the money to pay the regular refs.” The latter tweet had more than 64,000 retweets as of 2:30 a.m. ET.
Take a look at his tweets below:
Got fucked by the refs.. Embarrassing. Thanks nfl
— TJ Lang (@TJLang70) September 25, 2012
Fuck it NFL.. Fine me and use the money to pay the regular refs.
— TJ Lang (@TJLang70) September 25, 2012
Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings joined the chorus of his teammates in criticizing the refs, tweeting:
— Greg Jennings (@GregJennings) September 25, 2012
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had a different opinion, likely from anyone who isn’t a Seattle fan or player.
“From what I understood from the officials it was a simultaneous catch. Tie goes to the runner. Good call,” Carroll said.
But wait. It get’s even better.
Following Monday Night Football’s fiasco, the Lingerie Football League (LFL) released a statement, first reported by Deadspin, that revealed the league was actually forced to fire some of the refs that are now serving in the National Football League due to incompetence. Here’s the LFL’s statement:
Because of the LFL’s perception it is that much more critical for us to hire officiating crews that are competent, not only for the credibility of our game but to keep our athletes safer. Due to several on-field incompetent officiating we chose to part ways with with a couple crews which apparently are now officiating in the NFL. We have a lot of respect for our officials but we felt the officiating was not in line with our expectations.
We have not made public comment to date because we felt it was not our place to do so. However in light of tonight’s event, we felt it was only fair that NFL fans knew the truth as to who are officiating these games.
And as Deadspin points out, “If there was ever a reason for a public statement from a third-tier football league at 12:28 a.m. on a Tuesday, tonight’s debacle was it.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.