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By John McMullen, NFL Editor - Archive - Email
NFL steals one for Seattle
Simultaneous possession, this was not.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Some say women have a hormone that makes them forget how bad pregnancy is. The theory being that no sane gal would want to have another child if she remembered.

In the NFL, a lot of fans and media members alike seem to have a similar hormone, one that affects the memory drastically and makes them forget just how many blown calls have taken place in the league over the years.

Anyone remember Ed Hochuli's premature whistle that cost the San Diego Chargers a win over the Denver Broncos back in 2008?

The Music City Miracle still looks like a forward pass to most except Phil Luckett, the same guy who can't decipher heads from tails.

Ask people in Oakland about the difference between a tuck and a fumble and you might get a punch in the face. Mention the name Mike Renfro in the Steel City and you might get thrown in the Allegheny.

If a personal foul was called when the New Orleans Saints went high-low on Brett Favre in the 2010 NFC Championship Game, Bountygate may have never existed.

And, make no mistake, Dennis Erickson is somewhere right now trying to figure out exactly when Vinny Testaverde got in the end zone back in 1998.

No matter the terrible call, however, you got the same tired, old cliches in response to any criticism.

Only losers complain.

Good teams overcome bad breaks.

Officials are human, they make mistakes ... yada, yada, yada.

The NFL has always had an interesting, dysfunctional, almost abusive relationship going on with its followers. Most love the game too much to go anywhere, so the league hasn't done enough to improve officiating.

This is not meant to be a defense of the replacement referees, who have been an abject disaster over the past few weeks, culminating in yet another embarrassment for Roger Goodell on Monday night when his faux-zebras "cost" the Green Bay Packers a game in Seattle.

The Seahawks' Golden Tate was ruled to have come down with a Hail Mary pass in the back of the end zone on the final play of regulation to give Seattle a 14-12 victory over the Pack. Problem is, Green Bay's M.D. Jennings not only appeared to have the ball clutched to his chest with Tate having just his arms on the ball while lying underneath the defender -- he did.

Simultaneous possession, this was not.

Two of the replacement officials raced over to the pile of players to make the call, and one signaled an interception while the other went with a touchdown. The play was then ruled a touchdown, and video replay did not overturn the call despite Jennings controlling the ball.

"I've never seen anything like that in all my years of football," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "It was the most unusual football game I've ever been a part of."

The hard truth in Wisconsin Tuesday morning is that the replacement officials got it right. No, not the call -- that was as egregious as it gets. But, they did exactly what they've been told to do -- err on the side of caution and let the video sort things out.

You see one of the many reasons the replacement officials have been so bad is the over-regulation of the NFL product. There have been so many arcane rule changes over the past 10 years that people coming off the street simply can't commit them all to memory.

Gerry Austin, the retired former Super Bowl referee working as an analyst for ESPN during the broadcast, explained why the Seahawks were declared the winner. Austin noted the play wasn't reviewable for possession because the rule pertaining to simultaneous possession (as it was erroneously called on the field) is that the offensive player wins all ties.

And therein lies the real culprit in this nationally televised theft -- the rule itself. Replay officials should have been able to make a common sense decision but weren't allowed.

There is little doubt that America's pastime has become a horrible amalgamation of bad television this season thanks in large part to the replacement officials marred by indecision week in and week out.

But who's fault is that?

A group of well-meaning men thrown into an untenable situation or the bureaucrats who created it?


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