Does it serve as any consolation that the Seahawks probably weren’t going to beat the Packers anyway, regardless of the incompetent officiating?
I don’t blame you.
When the final score is 17-9, it’s impossible to ignore two calls that deprived touchdowns for the guys who scored the nine.
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Factor in the first-quarter ejection of Hawks cornerback Jeremy Lane for throwing a punch he didn’t appear to throw, and the story line of the season opener isn’t complicated:
The Seahawks’ opponents Sunday weren’t just an accomplished Packers team enjoying Lambeau Field’s famous home-field advantage. The Hawks also were up against an officiating crew overseen (excuse the term) by referee John Parry.
On an afternoon the Seattle defense would get worn down because of the inability of Seattle’s offense to control possession, the Seahawks were denied an early, gift-wrapped touchdown because of a disputable penalty called on defensive tackle Cliff Avril.
Avril was attempting to block for teammate Nazair Jones, who had an unencumbered path to the end zone after making the most rare of football plays: Picking off a pass thrown by Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
While Avril’s heart might have been in the right place — he was hustling downfield after a turnover — his head was a few hundred miles away. The odds of Rodgers bringing down the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Jones were prohibitive. All Avril needed to do at that point was turn into the same astonished spectator everybody else was.
But he not only got close to Rodgers, he made contact with him, and the touchdown that could have defined the course of the game was off the board.
The Seahawks lost Lane for the day on the same play. He and receiver Davante Adams became tangled up in what amounted to an inconsequential scrum, but Lane got escorted to the locker room while Adams was allowed to remain a dependable target for Rodgers.
“I didn’t see the punch at all,” Hawks head coach Pete Carroll said afterward. “I was disappointed the play had so much magnitude on the game. It’s such a drastic thing to do.
“I wish the officials would have met and just talked about it, figured it out, because it’s such a big call. I’m not talking about bringing the touchdown back, I’m talking about ejecting the guy. But that’s what they saw and that’s what they went with.”
Although rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin filled in capably as Lane’s replacement, the call left the defensive backfield short-handed on a hot day that contributed to leg cramps on both sides.
“It put a lot of strain on us,” said Carroll. “We were anticipating playing with that group of guys.”
Another officiating judgment call was no less curious. Moments after allowing the Packers to score a third-quarter touchdown on a one-play-possession set up by Russell Wilson’s fumble at the Green Bay 6-yard line, the offense finally sustained an actual drive.
On a third-and-goal pass, Wilson lofted a throw toward tight end Jimmy Graham in the end zone. Graham had no chance to use his considerable reach, as he was smothered by defensive backs Davon House and Josh Hawkins.
A flag on Hawkins seemed in order, giving Seattle as many as four more shots at the touchdown. But the Packers were exonerated of pass interference, and the Seahawks settled for a field goal.
Let’s be honest, the Hawks were undone Sunday by more than dubious officiating. The offensive line, in a rebuilding phase that figures to be finished around the same time orange traffic cones are removed from Interstate 5, was as porous as feared.
Three-and-out possessions put strain on a visibly wheezing defense, and when the Seahawks were compelled to make stops midway through the fourth quarter of a game still swinging on one possession, it couldn’t.
Having lost seven consecutive times at Lambeau Field, the Hawks realized optimum effort on Sunday would have to be accompanied with optimum efficiency.
But there was sloppiness all around.
“It reminds you how you have to be right, and not give away things, as we gave them the football on the 5 yard-line,” concluded Carroll. “In a really tight game against against a really good team, that’s how it goes. That’s how they get a chance to win.
“We know we can play a lot better.”
When touchdowns are lost from calls that are made — or, ahem, not made — “playing a lot better” isn’t an ambition.
It’s a requirement.