Packers vs. Seahawks: Will this call end the NFL referee lockout? (+video)
The Green Bay Packers lost to the Seattle Seahawks on a controversial call on the last play of the game. Interception or touchdown? The Seahawks victory is focusing fresh attention on the NFL replacement referees.
The furor over the work of replacement officials reached a fevered pitch during Week 3 in the NFL, especially late Monday when Seattle beat Green Bay on a desperation pass that many thought was an interception.Skip to next paragraph
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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 his 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.
"Very hard to swallow," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I have never seen anything like that in my time in football."
This was 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.
The officials have been locked out since June, when they and the league couldn't agree on a new collective bargaining agreement. In the officials' absence, replacement refs were brought in from lower college levels or from other leagues such as Arena Football.
The league and the officials' union met on Sunday without making any progress. The players' union also called on the 32 team owners to end the lockout because it is compromising the integrity of the game.
Packers guard T.J. Lang tweeted that they were robbed "by the refs. Thanks NFL."
In Sunday's Baltimore-New England game, aggro followed even insignificant plays. One TV analyst called it the substitute-teacher syndrome: See how much you can get away with before the real thing returns.