Replay officials were full-time employees, not replacement refs

Otto Greule Jr./Getty ImagesThe controversial play in the Seahawks vs. Packers game that was blamed on the inexperience of replacement refs was actually called by two full-time league employees.

The NFL ruled Tuesday that the result of Seattle’s controversial 14-12 victory over Green Bay on Monday will stand, even saying it supported the ruling of the replay official who confirmed the game-winning touchdown.

The NFL’s statement elicited another round of reactions, including Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers calling the NFL’s explanation “garbage” during a radio program Tuesday, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll saying it was “cool” the league confirmed the catch.

Replays seemed to indicate that Packers cornerback M.D. Jennings had possession of the game-winning pass in the end zone, but referees awarded the catch to Seattle’s Golden Tate after the two wrestled for the ball on the turf.

Although the replacement referees are being blamed for the gaffe on the field, the replay officials who reviewed the play were not replacements, but rather full-time league employees.

In any case, the NFL issued the following statement on Tuesday:

“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.

“When the players hit the ground in the end zone, the officials determined that both Tate and Jennings had possession of the ball. Under the rule for simultaneous catch, the ball belongs to Tate, the offensive player. The result of the play was a touchdown.

“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.”

Regarding the league’s rationalization of a simultaneous catch, Rodgers said, “That’s garbage, obviously … They’re covering their butt here.”

The NFL and representatives from the NFL Referees Association held face-to-face talks in a fourth straight day of negotiations on Tuesday. But according to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, a chasm remains between the locked-out officials and the NFL over pension and the number of reserve crews on watch as replacement optional replacements should any official be rated as underperforming.

The controversial touchdown resonated in a big way with gamblers. The Packers were 3½-point favorites who would have covered the spread and won by five without the final touchdown.

With the Seahawks winning by two, the estimated money swing according to one sports book was as much as $200 million to $250 million worldwide, ESPN.com reported.

New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney has seen enough controversial officiating in the NFL and will introduce legislation to ban replacement referees from professional sports the wake of Monday night’s controversial ending to the game in Seattle.

He was certainly not the only one upset.

President Barack Obama even weighed in saying on Twtter, “NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs’ lockout is settled soon. -bo”

NFLOakland Raiders & NFLPackersSeahawks

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