Replacement ref furor grows after wild Seattle win

Associated Press Modified: September 24, 2012 at 11:48 pm •  Published: September 24, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — The furor over the work of replacement officials reached a fevered pitch during Week 3 in the NFL, especially Monday night when Seattle beat Green Bay on a desperation pass that many thought was an interception.

Seahawks receiver Golden Tate was awarded a touchdown on the final play after a scrum on the ground in the end zone. Packers safety M.D. Jennings appeared to catch the ball against his body, with Tate getting his arm around the ball.

After a few seconds, one official indicated a stoppage of play, but another signaled touchdown for a conclusion former NFL coach Jon Gruden, working the game on TV, called "tragic" and "comical."

Tate clearly shoved cornerback Sam Shields to the ground on the play, but as Gruden noted, offensive pass interference almost never is called on desperation passes.

"Very hard to swallow," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I have never seen anything like that in my time in football."

One day after New England coach Bill Belichick was confused about a decisive field goal he thought was off-target and Detroit's Jim Schwartz couldn't understand a 27-yard penalty walk-off for unnecessary roughness, things had gotten even more chaotic.

"These games are a joke," Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman tweeted.

McCarthy was measured in his postgame remarks.

"Most unusual football game I have been a part of," he said. "I know it's been a wild weekend in the NFL and I guess we are part of it."

Packers guard T.J. Lang was even more emphatic, tweeting that the Packers were robbed "by the refs. Thanks NFL."

In Sunday night's Ravens-Patriots game, shoving matches followed even insignificant plays. One TV analyst called it the substitute-teacher syndrome: See how much you can get away with before the real thing returns.

"Nature says for us that we're going to go out there and push the limit regardless," Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway said. "If they're calling a game tight, if they're calling a game loose, it's going to be pushed to the limit. You are pushing it to the brink. If things are going to be called easier, and in some situations I feel like they've been less lenient, too, you've just got to play and see how (it's being called)."

If you can figure it out.

Broncos coach John Fox was fined $30,000 Monday and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio $25,000 for verbal abuse of the officials during a Monday night game against Atlanta on Sept. 17.

More fines are likely for Belichick and Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and perhaps for others.

Fox and Del Rio were hit for their sideline histrionics, particularly when Fox was told he couldn't challenge a call of 12 men on the field — he was correct that he could challenge, although replays showed the Broncos were guilty.

Before grabbing the arm of an official, Belichick wanted to know why Justin Tucker's field goal was called good in Baltimore's 31-30 victory Sunday night. He couldn't tell from his angle on the sideline, he said.

"So when the game was over, I went out and I was really looking for an explanation from the officials as to whether the play was under review," he said, "and I did try to get the official's attention as he was coming off the field to ask that, but I really wasn't able to do that."

Most confusing was the mark-off for a Lions penalty in overtime at Tennessee. Officials wound up penalizing Detroit from its 44-yard line rather than from the original line of scrimmage, the Titans 44.