“HE CAUGHT IT! HE CAUGHT IT! SIMULTANEOUS POSSESSION!!! WE WIN WE WIN WE WIN!!!!!!!”
Annnnnd that’s what my drunken reaction was to Monday night’s final play as I was running around King St. Bar and Oven, jumping into the arms of complete strangers.
And just like that, the Seahawks find themselves smack dab in the middle of a full-fledged national controversy.
But what’s controversial about this decision? OK, I’ll admit it, the first 100 times or so I looked at the replay, I thought that the refs gave us one. A concept that I’m perfectly fine with. After the Testeverde touchdown, the fourth Ravens timeout, the Super Bowl, and I’m sure tons of bad calls that I’m forgetting that all went against us, I think it’s about time we got one in our favor. Interesting that it takes non-NFL officials for the ball to bounce our way on one of these calls, but that’s another topic for another day. In fact, I had written an entire blog about why we shouldn’t care that we got the benefit of a controversial call that gave us a win.
Then I went online. I looked up something that’s available to anybody who is enough of a fan that they would piece through 120 pages of jargon and gobbledy-gook: the NFL rulebook. I am such a person. –If you’re a football nerd like I am, and want to kill a few days with boring language, you can go to www.nflcom/rulebook. Have fun–
There is no one rule that makes this call and subsequent review correct. There are several rules that when we combine them all together, and look back at the footage, create a clear picture of Golden Tate being the possessor in the end zone, and the Seahawks the win.
Before we jump into all that, let’s review a crucial part of the rules regarding replay. The MNF crew, to include former officiating veteran Gerry Austin, was incorrect about the reviewability of the simultaneous catch. In the field of play, simultaneous catch is not reviewable. However, the end zone is separate from the field of play. In the end zone, it is reviewable.
According to the NFL rule book, Rule eight, Section one, Article three , a reception or interception is credited when the player, “secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground, AND touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands, AND 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.”
Under this very definition, the ruling on the field was correct. While Packers DB M.D. Jennings did in fact get his hands around the ball first, this initial act doesn’t matter. It’s not until one of the possessing player’s feet hit the ground that it matters who is in possession of the ball, if anyone. And at the time Golden Tate’s feet hit the ground, M.D. Jennings’ feet are still in the air, and Tate has both hands on the football. His hands do not come off the football again until well after the play is over.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is simultaneous catch, which is awarded to the offensive team. We can sit and listen to Packers fans bitch and whine, and national pundits and talking heads jump up and down and scream about bad officiating, but in no uncertain terms is this anything but a simultaneous catch.
So celebrate, Seahawks fans. Celebrate a 2-1 start. Celebrate a defense that sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times in the first half, a half in which the highly touted Packers offense scored ZERO points. Celebrate a quarterback who has the ability to bring this team back in the fourth quarter, and put the ball in playmaker’s hands. Celebrate a true smashmouth football team that is going to fight, scratch, and claw for sixty minutes.
Celebrate your mean tough football team. Today, they deserve your celebration, and have earned your praise.
Celebrate the 2012 Seahawks.