Call in the Replacements: Monday Night Meltdown

There was plenty of excitement to go around on Monday night in Seattle.  The Seahawks were fresh off a win against the Cowboys and ready to show off Russell Wilson, a rookie at the helm of a team with one of the NFL’s most loyal fanbases.

The primetime spotlight and a national TV audience gave the Seahawks the attention they had long been waiting for.

Sacking Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers eight times in the first half, the Seahawks didn’t disappoint either, providing the offense with an opportunity to secure a win that could potentially be a good indicator of a turnaround in the Pete Carroll era.

That opportunity was glorified by one final play.  On fourth down and ten yards to go with a mere 8 seconds left on the clock and the Seahawks trailing 12-7, Russell Wilson rolled left, squared up and fired a pass into triple coverage in the back left corner of the end zone.

The questionable call improved Seattle’s Monday Night record to an amazing 17-8.

After hanging in the air for a split second, the ball appeared to have been picked off by safety M.D. Jennings, a play that would have effectively ended the game for a feisty Seahawks squad.

At the last possible moment, however, Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate got a hand on the secured ball and the two fell to the ground and were smothered by players from both teams, making it difficult to see who had the ball for the longest time.

In what was widely considered to be an outrageous call, both referees signaled a touchdown on the play, giving the Seahawks a 13-12 lead and the victory on the field.

A booth review following the 24-yard touchdown in question led to even more incredulousness.  Not only was it revealed that Jennings did in fact have control over the ball at the “moment of truth,” but also Tate pushed Packers defensive back Sam Shields to the ground before leaping to “make the catch.”

The call should have been offensive pass interference and would have, again, ended the game with a Packers win.

Instead, the Seahawks now have a 2-1 record and hold a signature win that could give them the confidence to make a run at either the NFC West crown or a Wild Card spot.

League officials have acknowledged that the ruling on the field was incorrect Monday night but did not make any efforts to condemn the play and certainly didn’t attempt to reverse the call.

A number of the replacement refs were actually fired by the Lingerie Football League.

The league doesn’t have the authority to reverse a call from any game, but the play brings up the bigger issue of poor officiating throughout the first three weeks of the season.

Currently, NFL referees are in the midst of negotiating a contract with the NFL and have been locked out until a deal is reached.  “Replacement” referees from the NCAA, Arena Football League, XFL and even the Lingerie Football League have been brought in to try and fill the void and have been berated and criticized by NFL players and coaches for a plethora of blown calls.

NFL refs are trying to gain more complete 401k’s and better compensation, an increase in pay that would cost the NFL just under $40,000 per referee.

While the price is a bit steep to bring these officials back on Sundays, the consistent incorrectness of the replacement refs is making the new contract appear more and more worth it every week.

It’s unclear when we’ll be seeing the likes of Ed Hochuli’s biceps on the field, but for now all we know is that the Packers are 1-2, the Seahawks are 2-1 and there are a lot of unhappy football fans across the nation.

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