For a moment on Sunday afternoon, it appeared that an incredibly costly pass interference penalty had gone against Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, helping the Vikings get into range for a game-winning field goal. As it turned out, the Vikings missed the kick, and the Seahawks won, and people mostly forgot about the penalty.
But Seahawks coach Pete Carroll didn’t forget. He called the league office to address the issue, saying he didn’t think Chancellor had interfered with Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph. The league said it stood by the official’s call.
“I called the league office to find out what their interpretation of that was,” Carroll said, via ESPN. “It’s so close because the defender has his right to his area, and the receiver is supposed to have to avoid to get by. As Rudolph was avoiding, Kam’s right hand came up, so his hand was outside here. They hit head to head. He made a move and came right into him, and Kam’s hand came up. That’s what they saw, so that’s what they called.
“Had his hand been inside, then that didn’t need to be a call because Kam was in his own space, and the receiver needs to be trying to avoid. They would have just overlooked that. They wouldn’t have called it usually. They wouldn’t have called it offensive interference, they wouldn’t call it defensive. They would just call it incidental. Because his hand was out there, it gave the guy a reason to make the call.”
For all the talk this season about the definition of a catch in the NFL, the definition of pass interference may be even more opaque, with players, coaches, officials, media and the fans all disagreeing regularly about whether a pass interference flag was a good call or a bad one. Carroll and the league office clearly disagreed about the flag thrown on Chancellor.