NFL: We stand by the terrible, terrible call at the end of that Packers/Seahawks game

So terrible was it that bookies are feeling moral qualms about collecting from Green Bay bettors. So terrible was it that even Scott Walker is pro-union this morning. So terrible was it that Jay Carney is denouncing it in strident terms usually reserved for horrors like YouTube videos that criticize Mohammed.

The punchline? The league now admits that the replacement refs blew the call. Not the call on the interception — which was also blown, make no mistake — but the call on Golden Tate’s obvious offensive pass interference in the end zone, which the league acknowledges should have ended the game. Help me figure this out, then. The NFL has two options: Stand by its replacement refs by going full Orwell and insisting that they got everything right, or stand with the fans by admitting that the call was blown and award Green Bay the victory. Because the key call came on the final play, this is a rare case where you can definitively say that the outcome of the game would have been different had the proper call been made. In which case, what’s the argument for letting the Seahawks keep the win?

While the ball is in the air, Tate can be seen shoving Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields to the ground. This should have been a penalty for offensive pass interference, which would have ended the game. It was not called and is not reviewable in instant replay.

When the players hit the ground in the end zone, the officials determined that both Tate and Jennings had possession of the ball. Under the rule for simultaneous catch, the ball belongs to Tate, the offensive player. The result of the play was a touchdown.

Replay Official Howard Slavin stopped the game for an instant replay review. The aspects of the play that were reviewable included if the ball hit the ground and who had possession of the ball. In the end zone, a ruling of a simultaneous catch is reviewable. That is not the case in the field of play, only in the end zone.

Referee Wayne Elliott determined that no indisputable visual evidence existed to overturn the call on the field, and as a result, the on-field ruling of touchdown stood. The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the video today and supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review.

If the pass interference call’s not reviewable, why bother to publicly second-guess it the way they did here? Just say, “We take no position on whether Tate pushed off. It’s in the discretion of the field officials.” They’ve somehow found the worst of both worlds, cutting their own guys off at the knees by acknowledging that blew the game and giving the fans no satisfaction by refusing to reverse the result.

One of the professional refs currently on strike e-mailed BuzzFeed to reassure them that, yes, the replacements ruined everything last night:

“I’m not very forgiving about officials who know they don’t know the rules and know they aren’t qualified to be working at that level. They have embarrassed themselves and officials at all levels in all sports. If there is one overriding ingredient of an official it is ‘integrity.’ They showed no integrity whatsoever by taking a job they knew they weren’t even close to being qualified to do. And they continue to go out there each week and prove it all over again. My advice to them is to look in the mirror and admit to themselves they aren’t capable of doing this job. No one has forced them to go out there. They took a job that they knew they weren’t qualified for. I have no sympathy for that. That is the antithesis of integrity.”

There’s a fledgling boycott afoot on Facebook, which surely won’t do much nationally — although I am suddenly curious to see what the TV ratings are like in Green Bay for the next Packers game. Here’s the VP nominee, a Wisconsin native of course, making hay on the trail today by needling another guy who’s not good at his job. Exit question: This story is a joke, right? The NFL replacement refs weren’t actually unqualified for … the Lingerie Football League, were they?

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