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NFL statement on final play of Green Bay Packers-Seattle Seahawks game

[Editor's note: The NFL released the following statement just after noon Eastern on Tuesday, September 25.]

NFL STATEMENT ON FINAL PLAY OF GREEN BAY PACKERS-SEATTLE SEAHAWKS GAME

In Monday’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, Seattle faced a 4th-and-10 from the Green Bay 24 with eight seconds remaining in the game.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a pass into the end zone. Several players, including Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate and Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings, jumped into the air in an attempt to catch the ball.

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.

The result of the game is final.

Applicable rules to the play are as follows:

A player (or players) jumping in the air has not legally gained possession of the ball until he satisfies the elements of a catch listed here.

Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3 of the NFL Rule Book defines a catch:

A forward pass is complete (by the offense) or intercepted (by the defense) if a player, who is inbounds:
(a) secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground; and
(b) touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands; and
(c) maintains control of the ball long enough, after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, to enable him to perform any act common to the game (i.e., maintaining control long enough to pitch it, pass it, advance with it, or avoid or ward off an opponent, etc.).

When a player (or players) is going to the ground in the attempt to catch a pass, Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 1 states:

Player Going to the Ground. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.

Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 5 states:

Simultaneous Catch. If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control. If the ball is muffed after simultaneous touching by two such players, all the players of the passing team become eligible to catch the loose ball.

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24 Responses to “NFL statement on final play of Green Bay Packers-Seattle Seahawks game”
  1. osiris33 says: Sep 25, 2012 12:43 PM

    As I’ve said all along. Possession cannot be determined until the play is completed. Regardless of who “had” the ball in mid-air, by the time they were on the ground, it was a simultaneous possession. TOUCHDOWN SEAHAWKS!!!!!

    Maybe the NFL would like to weigh in the bogus PI call on Browner that helped the Packers to their fake lead in the 1st place…. nah!!!!

  2. noeffinway says: Sep 25, 2012 12:44 PM

    Suck it up GB and move on. The rest of the league does! The special treatment has come to an end for you!

  3. sippindasyzurp says: Sep 25, 2012 12:44 PM

    Ya whatever, typical PR stunt by the league.. They seriously think were retarded?

    All I would want to see is him coming out and saying they screwed up and the wrong team won..

    Im not asking for them to over turn the win, just hold a little bit of accountability and move on..

  4. 7ballobserver says: Sep 25, 2012 12:47 PM

    What a load of complete and utter garbage. This “statement” just feels like there’s an undertone of “we’re still supporting the replacement referees.”

    Disgraceful for the league and the game. And this from a Bears fan. Disgusting.

  5. theclaim says: Sep 25, 2012 12:49 PM

    The Packers got Jobbed! No other way around it really. Russel Wilson is the first QB in the History of the NFL to throw a time expired interception to lead his team to?victory? No more scabs!

  6. tborwi says: Sep 25, 2012 12:50 PM

    It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control.

  7. videinfra78 says: Sep 25, 2012 12:59 PM

    Jennings clearly had control first, and by the rule stated here, there was no simultaneous catch. In an interview in the locker room Tate even said that Jennings “caught the ball first, but that [he] took it away from him.” Well Tate, if that was the case, then you just admitted there was no simultaneous catch yourself, because it’s obvious you never took it away. This is just PR from the NFL, that won’t budge until it hits them where it hurts — monetarily. They don’t care about the fans, the players (or their safety), or the integrity of their product when it comes to money. If somehow a protest of the Thursday night game were organized to get the real officials back, I’d totally do it. It’s the only way the NFL and the owners will care about this issue. Sad, but true.

  8. rickastleydancemoves says: Sep 25, 2012 1:02 PM

    Doesn’t matter. People are still going to watch on t.v., go to games, and buy merchandise. If you truly pissed stop lining the billionaire owner’s pockets with more money. Stop being sheep and start hurting their profits. Because whining about it on the internet and sports talk radio falls upon deaf ears.

  9. riverhorsey says: Sep 25, 2012 1:26 PM

    Not good enough NFL

  10. 7swag7 says: Sep 25, 2012 1:41 PM

    The million-dollar question is: at which point in time must both players have the ball for it to be deemed a “simultaneous catch”? And the answer is contained above in the definition of what a catch is. There is no catch until feet are on the ground – so it is at that EXACT point in time, when feet hit the ground, when you need to look to see who has their hands on the ball (not when they are in the air, and not when they are on the pile). TOUCHDOWN!!!

  11. randy91 says: Sep 25, 2012 2:03 PM

    NFL is the master of deception. They put the simultaneous catch rule after the definition of a catch to confuse people. Their statement said “It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control.” That’s exactly what happened.

  12. coolgato13 says: Sep 25, 2012 2:12 PM

    With its ruling today, the NFL has forever redefined the term “fantasy football.”

  13. stinkbmb says: Sep 25, 2012 2:15 PM

    This NFL statement is actually more insulting to the game than the actual call.

    They reference the rules to justify the call but do not actually apply them:

    “It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control”

    Apparently that part of the rule book didn’t apply here. The video replay clearly shows that Tate didn’t have control of the ball as he fell by the simply fact that he, at one point, was only touching it with one hand while Jennings was holding it to his chest. Tate only grabbed the ball after Jennings fell on him. Jennings clearly had control first and his opponent subsequently claimed joint control. Their “NFL Officiating Department” didn’t see this? This is the very example to why this rule was written and the NFL ignored it for the sake of damage control.

    Just pathetic.

    The emperor has no clothes.

  14. sudz28 says: Sep 25, 2012 2:16 PM

    They are contradicting their own rule book; in every sentence they cite, the operative word is “handS” with an ‘S’, not hand (singular). The Seahawks receiver only ever had a single hand on the ball, while the GB defender had both hands on it. By their own definition, what the Seahawks receiver was doing was NOT a ‘catch’!

  15. rlr79 says: Sep 25, 2012 2:42 PM

    Not trying to defend the NFL here but people soon forget that regular refs make terrible calls all the time as well. Heck while we are talking about the Seahawks the biggest reason instant replay was brought back is because they lost a game that could of put them into the playoffs due to a horrible call on the one yard line against the Jets they ruled a fourth down run by Testiverde was a touchdown which with replay clearly showed that the ball never came close to breaking the plain only his helmet, and that was with the regular refs. I would bet that when the regular refs return they will make even more bad call because they are rusty, human error is enevitable. The only thing I place blame on the NFL is don’t act like it didn’t happen. However, bad calls have happened in the past, they will continue to happen, and will happen in the future. It is what it is, we just have to move on.

  16. gorilladunk says: Sep 25, 2012 2:53 PM

    Not a fan of either team but I will offer this….In nearly 50 years of watching NFL football, I’ve never seen simultaneous possession occur when one player is grasping the ball from BEHIND the other player. Whew!!

  17. banky74 says: Sep 25, 2012 2:53 PM

    I don’t understand what all the hubbub is about. Green Bay lost. Everyone should be happy. I know I am.

  18. clayshair says: Sep 25, 2012 3:05 PM

    The NFL has only compounded their embarrassment with this absurd statement.

    I know people that are dropping NFL ticket and doing anything else in whatever little way to vote with their dollars.

    Otherwise, nothing will change.

  19. chrisbntx says: Sep 25, 2012 3:21 PM

    I know I’m in the minority but after watching several times both guys came down with the ball. Jennings had it in the air but when they came down both guys had two hands on the ball for several seconds. It wasn’t until after the TD signal was made that Jennings pulled one of Tate’s hands off. In my mind it seems like possesion was 70/30 or 80/20 but by rule that doesn’t matter. It was a touchdown.

  20. frenzy95 says: Sep 25, 2012 3:33 PM

    chrisbntx says: Sep 25, 2012 3:21 PM
    I know I’m in the minority but after watching several times both guys came down with the ball. Jennings had it in the air but when they came down both guys had two hands on the ball for several seconds. It wasn’t until after the TD signal was made that Jennings pulled one of Tate’s hands off. In my mind it seems like possesion was 70/30 or 80/20 but by rule that doesn’t matter. It was a touchdown.

    __________________________________________________
    You must be a homer cause at NO POINT did Tate have 70 or 80% of that ball. Jennings caught it, Jennings brought it to his chest. One of tates arms is clearly under Jennings the other on top of Jennings arms. Gheesh!

  21. imaginesuperbowlwin says: Sep 25, 2012 4:32 PM

    As an NFL fan, this is really spineless and sickening.

    As a Vikings fan (who reads plenty of anti-Vikings drivel on this site), I could read these comments and enjoy them ALL DAY (pun intended).

  22. gowhitten says: Sep 25, 2012 8:55 PM

    Get over it Green Bay. Aaron Rogers did not come to play Monday night and the Packers lost the game because he did not show for the first half. Everyone seems to forget the whoop-ass that Seattle put on Tony Romo and the Cowboys the week before. I would not want to be the Rams next week because I think the Seahawks will feel they have something to prove.

  23. thewassabi says: Sep 26, 2012 12:59 PM

    Its wasn’t a question of who possessed the ball it was a matter of simultaneous catch and the ball was first caught by MD Jennings then Golden tate gained jointed possession on the ground and by rule it is a interception you ignorant fools!! And further more no one knows what they were looking at under the hood, no explanation of the play was given just ruled a touchdown. Neither possession of the ball or simultaneous catch were discussed just show a complete lack of ignorance of the rule by the replacement refs.

  24. kstreetdawg says: Sep 30, 2012 1:15 AM

    frenzy95 says:
    Sep 25, 2012 3:33 PM
    chrisbntx says: Sep 25, 2012 3:21 PM
    I know I’m in the minority but after watching several times both guys came down with the ball. Jennings had it in the air but when they came down both guys had two hands on the ball for several seconds. It wasn’t until after the TD signal was made that Jennings pulled one of Tate’s hands off. In my mind it seems like possesion was 70/30 or 80/20 but by rule that doesn’t matter. It was a touchdown.

    ___________________________________
    You must be a homer cause at NO POINT did Tate have 70 or 80% of that ball. Jennings caught it, Jennings brought it to his chest. One of tates arms is clearly under Jennings the other on top of Jennings arms. Gheesh!

    ___________________________________
    You sir are an idiot. The commenter was conceding the fact that Jennings had ‘more’ possession. However, ‘more’ possession doesn’t rule out simultaneous possession. And one of Tate’s hands is on the ball while one of Jennings is over Tate’s hand. Honestly, only an easily influenced moron would think this play wasn’t arguably simultaneous possession. At no point did Tate lose contact of the ball with his left hand. You can disagree that he had control, but to follow suit with the awful ESPN coverage, is idiotic. You have proven that with your comment that you are one who embraces the idiocy.

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