SEATTLE – M.D. Jennings has no doubt. Neither do his teammates.
“It was pinned to my chest the whole time we were on the pile,” Jennings said of the final Hail Mary pass to the end zone that was ruled a touchdown catch by Seattle’s Golden Tate. “Yeah, I feel like I had the ball.”
The controversial call gave the Seahawks a stunning 14-12 victory over the Packers on Monday night at CenturyLink Field. The Packers were clinging to a 12-7 lead in the final seconds when the Seahawks faced fourth down from the Green Bay 24.
Seattle QB Russell Wilson scrambled around and then fired deep to the end zone. The Packers had five players to the Seahawks’ two in the scrum, and Jennings and Tate both got their arms on the ball.
The call on the field was a touchdown, but Jennings said he was “shocked” it wasn’t overturned on replay.
In a rather surreal moment in the locker room afterwards, Jennings was asked if he had seen a replay, and moments after he said he hadn’t, a roar of disgust went up on the other side of the locker room as his teammates saw the replay on TV.
“They’re human,” Jennings said of the replacement officials, who will come under even more fire for how this game ended and was officiated throughout. “They make mistakes and we have to live with it.”
That’s tough to swallow, but the Packers were doing their best to be diplomatic afterwards. Veteran cornerback Charles Woodson was asked if a finish like this will spur a settlement of the labor dispute with the regular officials.
“It will have a lot to do with it, I think,” Woodson said. “We’ll see where it goes from here.”
The final play wiped out what had been a superb defensive effort by the Packers, holding the Seahawks to seven points and stopping them on fourth down inside the 10 with less than two minutes left.
Seattle had just 238 total yards and was 2-of-11 on third down. They didn’t surpass 200 yards of offense until well into the fourth quarter.
But that is all but forgotten because of the final play. To add insult to injury, the replay showed cornerback Sam Shields getting shoved in the back by Tate as players were getting in position to leap for the ball. Shields was shoved completely out of the play.
“I think I was getting ready to get it, if I wouldn’t have gotten shoved in the back,” said Shields, who had broken up an end zone pass just three plays earlier. “I guess the refs didn’t see it. Nothing I can do about it. Just move on.”
That was about all the Packers could say after this one. Move on. It was the postgame refrain, to be sure, as well as something they could say without risking a fine from the league. There were several awkward pauses at many questions about the officiating.
To a man, the Packers admitted they shouldn’t have been in that situation. They know that and many said so. The offense was shut out in the first half, so that didn’t help either.
But the bottom line is the game came down to one play the Packers felt they made, and the officials said the Seahawks made it. It doesn’t get much tougher than that.
“Very frustrating,” defensive lineman B.J. Raji said. “You put a lot into it, but some things you can’t control. That last play was indicative of that. Everybody has to answer to somebody. I wish we would have won but we didn’t, and we move on and get better because of it.” Additional coverage - Packers vs. Seahawks