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Touchdown call fuels anger over NFL refs
Seattle Seahawks awarded game-winning touchdown in final seconds against Green Bay as replacement refs come under fire.
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2012 11:16
Green Bay's M.D. Jennings appears to have gathered the ball on Seattle's final play [Reuters]

The anger over the work of replacement officials grew after more game-changing decisions on the third weekend of the NFL season.

Regular officials have been locked out since June, when they and the league couldn't agree on a new collective bargaining agreement. Replacement refs were brought in from lower college levels or from other leagues such as Arena Football.

Late on Monday, the Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers 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 endzone.

Packers safety M.D. Jennings appeared on replays 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."

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

The league and the officials' union met on Sunday without making any progress. The players' union also called on the 32 team owners to end the lockout because it is compromising the integrity of the game.

Monday night's game saw that controversial touchdown secure a 14-12 win for Seattle with seconds on the clock.
With the score 12-7 to Green Bay, the Seahawks faced fourth down on the Packers' 24-yard line when rookie quarterback Russell Wilson heaved his 'Hail Mary' pass into the endzone.

"It was awful," Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers told reporters of the ruling. "Just look at the replay, and then the fact that it was reviewed. It was awful. That's all I'm going to say about it."

The end of Monday's game was delayed for several minutes as Packers (1-2) players had already left the field but were forced to return for the final extra point attempt.

While Green Bay looked on in disbelief, the Seahawks and their home fans celebrated wildly as they improved their record to 2-1 on the season.

"It's just total desperation and we went to a guy that can really make things happen," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.

"This is what it is, (Wilson) has to make things like this happen if he's going to be big time. And he will and he is."

The conclusion to the game overshadowed what had been a gritty defensive battle.

Seattle sacked reigning league MVP Rodgers eight times on the way to forging a 7-0 halftime lead.

The Packers found their running game in the second half and chipped away at the deficit with a pair of field goals in the third quarter, and then took the lead through Cedric Benson's one-yard touchdown run in the fourth.

However, it all came down to the final play as Russell scrambled to avoid the Green Bay rushers then launched a pass that would win the game and lead to one of the season's biggest talking points.

"I had a feeling it was going to be a touchdown. We came too far for it not to be a touchdown," said Wilson, who finished with a modest 130 passing yards, to Rodgers' 223, and two scores.

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