By John Boyle Herald Columnist
SEATTLE — As one official signaled Seahawks touchdown, another waved his hands over his head as if he were about to rule a Packers interception.
Clearly the only way to settle this controversial, game-deciding play was to invoke the little-used NFL rule I like to call “the Charly Martin tiebreaker.”
If you look at the pictures from behind the end zone on the final play of last night’s game, you clearly see two officials making different calls, while Martin, from the ground, signals touchdown.
Two votes for a touchdown, one for an interception? Seahawks win!
Of course, it is completely absurd to suggest that Martin signaling touchdown was the deciding factor, but after what we saw Monday night, and after the insane amount of reaction and overreaction on Tuesday, completely absurd seems appropriate right now.
By now you obviously know that the Seahawks beat the Packers 14-12 on Monday in one of the most controversial final plays in NFL history, and not surprisingly in this world of social media and 24-hours sports networks, the backlash to Golden Tate’s winning catch has been significant.
And look, I get it, there is a lot to not like about that final play. For starters, as the NFL admitted a day later, officials missed a pretty blatant case of offensive pass interference in the form of a two-handed shove by Tate just before the ball arrived. And we can spend all week arguing the nuances of the “simultaneous catch” rule, but let’s clear one thing up right now: the Seahawks shouldn’t be apologizing to anyone for this win. Is it fair to say they maybe shouldn’t have won the game? Sure, but to suggest, as Packers guard T.J. Lang did on Twitter, that “Any player/coach in Seattle that really thinks they won that game has zero integrity as a man and should be embarrassed” is downright silly. (And speaking of embarrassing, it’s funny that Lang failed to Tweet about the eight first-half sacks his line allowed).
Does Lang, or anyone else directing their anger at the Seahawks, really expect us to believe Packers players would be apologizing for the victory if the roles were reversed? Did the Yankees say they were sorry to Baltimore fans in 1996 on their way to a World Series title after the infamous Jeffrey Maier home run? Did Diego Maradona apologize to England in 1986 when his “Hand of God” goal helped Argentina to a victory in the World Cup quarterfinals? Of course not.
Bad calls, replacement officials or not, are a part of sports. And yes, there have been more bad calls than usual because of those replacement refs, but to suggest that the Seahawks should feel bad about his victory is about as logical as believing Martin really had the tie-breaking vote on the final play. (Though after watching replacement officials for four weeks, are we 100 percent sure that they weren’t somehow influenced by Martin signaling touchdown? I’m kidding. Sort of).
Asked about the notion that the Seahawks “stole” a win, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said on 710 ESPN Seattle, “I don’t care. I could(n’t) care less about all that stuff. The game is played, they called it. … They called it, and the league backed it up. Game over and we win.”
So no, Carroll isn’t apologizing for his team’s win over Green Bay. Nor is Russell Wilson, who was asked after the game if he was certain it was a touchdown and answered, with a coy smile, “Of course. Why wouldn’t it be?”
The game’s ending was controversial enough that it was lead news nationally on nonsports shows Tuesday morning. It was so notable that President Barack Obama felt compelled to weigh in on Twitter, saying “NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs’ lockout is settled soon.” Even more amazingly, it was such a big story Tate will now be best known for something other than his late night pilfering of maple bars.
But just like the Steelers won’t feel guilty about their Super Bowl XL win that featured a referee kicking two calls in the fourth quarter — and those are referee Bill Leavy’s words, not mine — that helped Pittsburgh beat the Seahawks, Seattle isn’t going to view this as a tainted win. And if the Seahawks should apologize to the Packers for Monday’s win, then the Jets owe Seattle a long overdue apology for the 1998 phantom touchdown scored by Vinny Testaverde that gave New York a win and kept Seattle out of the playoffs.
The Packers and their fans have every right to be upset about the way the game ended. NFL fans everywhere, including Seattle, should hope that the series of controversial calls in the fourth quarter of Monday’s game — yes, there were more than the one we were shown Tuesday ad nauseam, including calls that went against Seattle — will be the impetus for the NFL and the officials to reach a deal. Just don’t expect the Seahawks to feel guilty, or to offer to forfeit the win.
After all, Martin clearly signaled touchdown.
Herald writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.