It was the wrong call.
MD Jennings had nearly complete control of the football. If you’re looking for an excuse to give the refs the benefit of the doubt, the closest you’ve got is that the ref ruled it was simultaneous control, in which case tie goes to the offense.
But it really didn’t look like Golden Tate had anything close to possession of the ball. He also pushed off.
But I don’t feel sorry for the Packers, and I don’t buy that the refs cost the Packers the game.
The Packers did plenty on their own to lose the game. Jennings could’ve just knocked the ball down. Why was he trying to catch it?
They scored 12 points. They gave up eight sacks in the first half. The vaunted offense with the unstoppable quarterback averaged 3.9 yards per play. Aaron Rodgers threw for only 184 yards on 26 completions. Donald Driver dropped a pass in the end zone that would’ve given the Packers four more points.
“We shoulda cashed in more touchdowns,” Rodgers said afterward, acknowledging what none of the Green Bay fans seem willing to.
One play doesn’t decide a game. It just doesn’t. And even if you want to argue that it does, let’s not pretend that this is the first time an NFL team has been awarded a touchdown they shouldn’t have been. That happens all the time. Poor officiating has been a major talking point in the NFL every year for years. Who doesn’t remember the “why aren’t NFL refs full-time” debate?
Had the regular officials been in place for this game it’s very possible they would’ve made the same bad call. And oh, by the way, the replay officials in the booth that reviewed the play ARE NOT REPLACEMENTS. THEY ARE REGULAR NFL REPLAY OFFICIALS.
And let’s be honest. The hysteria surrounding the replacement refs is so loud that every NFL team knows going into every game that something like this is not only possible, but even likely to happen. You know when you make mistakes and fail to capitalize on chances you’re playing with fire and putting the game into the refs hands.
I’ve been pretty indifferent to the whole controversy from the get-go, in part because I actually remember that people complain about the real refs as much as they complain about the fake ones, and in part because I just don’t think blaming officials — even when they really are bad — is a worthwhile endeavor. Sports are played by humans and they’re officiated by humans. Mistakes will be made. Sometimes really, really bad ones. They tend to even out. You do your best as a competitor to take it out of their hands and win the game on your own merit. If you can’t, you live with the outcome. Sometimes it doesn’t go the way it probably should. There are greater tragedies in the world.
I was actually thinking the replacement refs were doing a decent job during the Vikings-49ers game on Sunday, and then late in the 4th quarter they erased that 50 minutes or so of competence by basically giving Jim Harbaugh as many challenges and timeouts as he wanted.
I realized that my indifference to the replacement refs was going to be tested. If the Vikings blew their 11-point lead against the Niners thanks to the refs, would I change my tune?
I certainly wouldn’t have been happy. But you know what the Vikings did? They made plays. They intercepted Alex Smith. They stubbornly gave the ball to Toby Gerhart over and over even though he couldn’t hold on to it. Er, well, maybe that wasn’t so great, but had the Vikings lost, I wouldn’t have blamed the refs. I would’ve blamed the Vikings for not making enough plays to win.
Just like I blame the Packers for playing an underwhelming game against a mediocre team, throwing themselves at the mercy of an unqualified officiating crew.
(None of this changes that NFL owners are terrible people who have no credibility when they say they have the best interests of the sport in mind)
* Live chat today at 2.