A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Why the replacement refs made the right call in the Packers-Seahawks game

with 9 comments

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

Twitter: @ASFW_jrodger

Email: julienrodger@gmail (Throw me a question, I’ll get around to a weekly/monthly mailbag if I get enough)

Written by jr.

September 24, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Posted in Football

Tagged with , , , , ,

9 Responses

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  1. I forgot to mention there was pass interference on the call and on several previous drives, so one could argue from that perspective the refs screwed up. But people aren’t truly angry at the pass interference calls, they’ve been missed all season and don’t get called on hail marys with regular refs either. This article is meant to show that the TD instead of interception call that’s getting all the controversy was correct.


    September 25, 2012 at 11:53 am

  2. Finally someone is right about this in the media. Thank you for posting this and breaking it down, I have been trying to explain this everyone and everyone thinks I’m an idiot, but if you know the rules, the refs were right.


    September 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    • I’ll add that I think the were based on the slow motion replays I have watched several dozen time and the gifs above. It isn’t exactly clear where Tate’s left arm is at all times but based on video, it seems to be visable at different angles at different times that seemingly show that Tate has possession with his left arm between the ball and Jennings.


      September 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm

  3. Seems like the NFL agrees with us, they said pass interference was missed but the simultaneous TD call was correct


    September 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    • That’s called saving face. They were never going to admit otherwise.

      You were wrong, just admit it.


      September 27, 2012 at 12:38 pm

  4. Ever since I saw this play I thought the refs made a good call. It’s tough, but the rule says if both have possession, it goes to the offense. Thanks for showing these angles, it helps confirm my impression.

    BP Jones

    September 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm

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

    Also, control =/= completing a catch.


    September 25, 2012 at 9:01 pm

  6. I absolutely agree and I also have been thinking this since first seeing it. It’s amazing how very few to none of the high profile “experts” have noticed or questioned this


    September 26, 2012 at 6:24 am

  7. Cool to see you post on this Julien. This is interesting because it really shows the gaps in the rules. Before I get into those though what stood out to me first was how bizarre it is to worry about 2 feet getting down when the only reason only one of his feet is down is because people are hitting him. The 2 foot rule doesn’t apply to guys knocked out of bounds, so why would it apply here?

    Getting into the nooks of the rules:

    “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.”

    A “simultaneous catch” is not one where the two players at some point both appear to have control of the ball, but where both appear to get and maintain that control at the same time. The defender had it first, and even after the offensive player gets partial control he then let’s go again as they fall before getting it back.

    If we interpret this rule then as the tiebreaker I’d say it was meant to be then (“BOTH guys caught the ball simultaneously, what do we do?”), it’s pretty clear that the defender has dibs for reasons that go beyond the tiebreaker.

    Clearly the NFL is saying that this rule doesn’t come into play until both guys would qualify for an official catch because both feet are on the ground, but then what’s the point of the “retain” clause? Common sense would indicate that it only makes sense to include that clause if you’re making a distinction between something other than the standard “maintain control” rule for pass catching, but if the NFL isn’t using it here, it would seem that precedent is being sent that it’s simply a redundant piece of language. I don’t actually believe that that was the intent of the rule though. We’re talking about a rule clarification directly below the general pass catching rule, ambiguous redundancy in a situation like that is about the worst thing you could possibly do.

    I really question whether the NFL right now isn’t being opportunistic with their own rule interpretation.

    Matt Johnson

    September 26, 2012 at 8:08 am

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