Six years ago, officials missed former Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes using the ball as a prop after scoring a late go-ahead touchdown in Super Bowl XLIII. The officials missed it; if they hadn’t, the Steelers would have been kicking off to the Cardinals from the Pittsburgh 15. (The rules at the time put kickoffs at the 30, not the 35.)
On Sunday, officials missed Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch using, um, his balls as a prop after scoring a late go-ahead touchdown. Lynch turned to the Green Bay defense and grabbed his crotch after scoring. The officials missed it; if they hadn’t, the Seahawks would have been kicking off to the Packers from the Seattle 20.
Without the 15-yard penalty, the Packers returned the kickoff to their own 22 and eventually drove in position to kick an overtime-forcing field goal. With the 15-yard penalty, which would have been enforced on the kick not the try, who knows what would have happened with the kickoff from the 20?
On one hand, chances are the Packers may have gone into the same shell they occupied after getting into field-goal range. On the other hand, if the Packers had opted to go for the touchdown and if they had gotten it, Lynch’s antics would have been blamed as giving Green Bay the extra real estate that was ultimately parlayed into a win over Seattle and a berth in the Super Bowl. Which would have made it more difficult for Seahawks fans to embrace Lynch and/or for the team to welcome him back in 2015.