Why the replacement refs made the right call in the Packers-Seahawks game
First off, here are the two best angles of the play
Here is the sequence of events
1. Jennings intercepts the pass midflight, but initially lands on ONE foot. This is quite easy to see in the first GIF. His other leg basically goes down with the rest of his body.
2. Tate puts his hands on the ball before Jennings’ 2nd foot goes down. It’s pretty clear in the 2nd GIF that Tate at least has simultaneous possession at some point and by the lateness of Jennings’ 2nd foot hitting the ground in the 1st GIF, it’s fairly clear this is before Jennings other foot goes down.
3. Both players hit the ground. Tate is below Jennings so if anything he hits before Jennings’ other foot does.
4. Jennings wrestles the ball away from Tate again. This is IRRELEVANT, because the play is already dead as soon as the players hit the ground. It’s the same situation as a fumble getting called off because a player was down first in a normal mid-field situation. Furthermore, the rule is that if Tate has simultaneous possession at any point before the play ending (which happens when Jennings and Tate hit the ground), then it’s a touchdown regardless of whether he loses the ball after. Any offensive possession in the endzone, even if simultaneous, even if for a split second, is a touchdown.
When Jennings has “sole” possession of the ball, it’s only one 1 foot. To have real control of the ball his other foot would’ve had to come down. Put it this way, Jennings dropped the ball after he initially caught it and before Tate put his hands on it, the play would’ve been ruled an incomplete pass and not a fumble, because before his other foot came down he didn’t have control of it. If one accepts that call is an incomplete pass if he drops it, you have to accept he didn’t have possession of it before Tate put his hands on it.
The only way it’d be an interception is if Jennings had sole possession of the ball when his 2nd foot hit the ground. While I wouldn’t completely rule this out based on the evidence, if I had to call it from those 2 GIFs, I would without question give my vote to Tate having two hands on the ball before Jennings’ 2nd foot hit the ground. At the very least, it’s a close enough call that it’s defend-able the referees ruled Tate had his hands on it. And possession can’t be overturned on a review, the call on the field had to stand.
Ironically considering how bad they’ve been, the replacement referees made the right call in this game and Seattle deserved to beat Green Bay.
By Julien Rodger
Email: julienrodger@gmail (Throw me a question, I’ll get around to a weekly/monthly mailbag if I get enough)