They got it wrong.
That’s the opinion of Aaron Pointer, an NFL official for 17 years who retired in 2004, on the replacement officials signaling a touchdown for Seattle Seahawks receiver Golden Tate on the final play of his team’s 14-12 win over Green Bay on Monday night.
Pointer, who also has worked as an assistant in the replay booth, said Tate never had control of the ball initially, and that Green Bay defensive back M.D. Jennings made the catch before Tate grabbed onto the ball, meaning there was no need to make a simultaneous-possession call.
“I thought that eventually the ruling would be done correctly,” Pointer said. “And Green Bay would be given an interception, which it was. But that didn’t happen that way, and that’s too bad.
“Tate never had possession of the ball. He had a hand on the ball after the Green Bay player had possession. That’s not a simultaneous catch.”
While the replacement officials are well-intentioned, Pointer said, they’re in over their heads and it’s time for the league to reach agreement on a new deal with the regular officials.
“The NFL is about image, and the image right now is not good with everything that is going on,” Pointer said. “I think it’s a shame when people start talking more about the officials officiating the ballgame than (about) the players.
“The replacement officials are doing the best job they can, but they are just not up to NFL standards.”
A day after Tate’s controversial catch caused a national stir, the NFL weighed in on the decision.
According to the league’s prepared statement, the NFL supported referee Wayne Elliott’s decision not to overturn the ruling on the field, which resulted in a 24-yard touchdown catch by Tate that gave Seattle a surprising victory.
Tate and Jennings appeared to come down with the ball together.
According to the release, 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 league’s officiating department also reviewed the video Tuesday, supporting the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant-replay review.
The NFL said the result of the game is final.
However, the league admitted that Tate’s shove of Green Bay defensive back Sam Shields while the ball was in the air should have been flagged for pass interference, which would have ended the game.
But it was not called, and it is not reviewable by instant replay.
The play created a stir nationally, with even President Barack Obama weighing in, saying it’s time for the NFL to bring back its regular officials.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers once again reiterated his disappointment with the league for allowing replacement officials to continue to oversee games.
“We put a lot into this game,” Rodgers said on his weekly radio show in Milwaukee. “That’s most of the frustration. We put so much into this and we put our bodies and livelihood on the line. You can’t possibly tell me, the way that things are going right now, that player safety is being held to the same standard it was, and just the integrity of the game just isn’t what it was.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Seattle coach Pete Carroll continues to believe that Tate made the catch.
“Yeah, and I think it’s cool that the league thought that, too,” Carroll said Tuesday. “It’s very questionable; it’s a questionable call to make. But it’s simultaneous when they hit the ground. Up in the air, it looked like the DB had the advantage, but when they got the ground it’s a matched-up catch. And it’s a very hard one to call, and we were fortunate that the call went our way.”
Former NFL defensive back Eric Davis, now working for NFL Network, was one of the few analysts who understood how officials could make the ruling on the field that Tate’s catch was valid.
“It’s not a catch until they secure it through the ground,” Davis said. “He had both hands on the ball when they both hit the ground. That’s why I can see the refs making that call.”
But most former players around the league believe the officials got it wrong.
“Everybody out there, you should be really angry because your intelligence has been insulted,” said ESPN NFL analyst and former Seahawks quarterback Trent Dilfer, who raised the 12th Man flag at the beginning of the game Monday. “The NFL is trying to tell you, ‘It’s not a big deal, these guys can do the job, the integrity of the game’s in place.’ It’s not.”