Thoughts, interpretations on NFL statement
September, 25, 2012
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
What matters most about the NFL's statement on Golden Tate's controversial winning touchdown catch against Green Bay on Monday night:
Pass interference missed
NFL: "While the ball is in the air, Tate can be seen shoving Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields to the ground. This should have been a penalty for offensive pass interference, which would have ended the game. It was not called and is not reviewable in instant replay."
Sando: This was obvious. The NFL seemingly could not see this any other way. Once officials missed the call on the field, nothing could be done. Tough break, especially in a game featuring multiple questionable calls for interference. Earlier in the game, this crew thought Shields interfered with Sidney Rice when Rice wrapped one arm around Shields' helmet while using his free hand to grab Shields by the face mask. But when Tate shoved Shields in the back in plain sight, there's no call?
What was reviewable
NFL: "Referee Wayne Elliott determined that no indisputable visual evidence existed to overturn the call on the field, and as a result, the on-field ruling of touchdown stood. The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the video today and supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review."
Sando: This one wasn't so clear. I do think the M.D. Jennings intercepted the pass, but once the officials ruled otherwise, the standard for reversal rose to the highest level (indisputable). I'd say it was 90 percent indisputable, which is not indisputable. Update: The league had a clear disincentive to contradict its replacement officials, even if strong evidence did exist. Contradicting the replacements would have provided a boost to the locked out regular ones.
Simultaneous or not
NFL: "Under the rule for simultaneous catch, the ball belongs to Tate, the offensive player. The result of the play was a touchdown."
Sando: OK, but was this the right call? The statement does not say whether the NFL Officiating Department thought what happened actually qualified as a simultaneous catch. That is a critical detail. I followed up with a league spokesman, who said the NFL "could not determine whether it was correct."
Seahawks' victory stands
NFL: "The result of the game is final."
Sando: Green Bay fans might be disappointed, but I think this was an easy decision. The commissioner does have authority to reverse outcomes in the case of unfair acts. Bad calls happen every week. They're not unfair acts in the most serious sense. A remote-controlled plane flying on the field to block an extra point would be more in line with an unfair act, in my view. Perhaps that will happen next week.
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