Seattle or Green Bay?

OK, I’ve watched the replay a number of times but I can’t see that the evidence is so abundantly clear that the Packer defender (Jennings) was the one who caught that ball.

I’ve got no dog in this fight; the Bears aren’t going to beat the Packers in the Black and Blue division; I’m not a fan of the Seattle team…

… as I watch it the Packer player got to the ball first but as the ball was brought down the Seattle player grabbed ahold of that ball and they came down together.

When is the judgment made who caught it? When it is touched or when someone lands on the ground with possession? If the latter, I say “Simultaneous catch.”

What say you?

Two more pictures:

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Kenneth

    All the controversy wouldn’t even exist if there wasn’t an awful pass interference call on 3rd and long during the Packers scoring drive.

  • Gordon

    i am with you Scot. No clear evidence. Tie goes to the offensive, though we are the only 2 people that think this was not an interception.

  • http://www.simplyshalom.com Naomi

    According to an NPR interview this morning, in order for it to be a simultaneous catch they both have to get their hands on the ball at the same moment. Thus, it should have been touchdown Packers. I don’t normally follow sports, so it’s kind of hilarious that I am commenting about this…

    Here’s the article:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/09/25/161732519/bring-back-the-real-nfl-refs-debacle-at-end-of-game-adds-to-outrage

  • Jonathan

    I cannot find any commentator (e.g., ESPN, SI, etc.) whose take is that it was simultaneous possession. The GB defender catches the ball with both hands and draws it to his chest, where it seems to remain the whole time. The Seattle receiver gets both hands on the ball temporarily after the GB player has it; subsequently, one of his hands leaves the ball (though he later puts it back on the ball). It’s a matter of timing and control: the GB player seems to gain 100% control before the Seattle player starts contending it.

  • Curt

    Scot,

    I guess Bears fans see a different “latter” than everyone else? I submit the following evidence.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/A3nPKntCMAA-yo-.jpg

  • Andy

    Peter King of Sports Illustrated does a great job of breaking it down here:
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/peter_king/09/25/replacement-referees-packers-seahawks/index.html?sct=nfl_t11_a0

    Here is the picture that pretty clearly illustrates the possession: http://i.imgur.com/hOrH7.jpg

  • Steve Sherwood

    What surprises me is how few people are noting, not here, but everywhere, that it was reviewed in the booth, by NON-replacement NFL officials. It still may have been a big mistake, but, if so, one that both replacement and non-replacement officials played a part in.

  • megan

    I do think it’s a clear GB pick, but it’s probably a closer call than has been implied by most of the outrage. The problem isn’t so much the play in itself. The problem is that the play entered into a narrative in which this season’s football games have been plagued by questionable calls, interminable delays, out of control behavior, and other ills directly attributable to the employment of unqualified replacement refs–and that’s a justified narrative, IMO. The play is being interpreted not just on its own merits as a questionable call, but as the climax of the narrative that has thus far defined the NFL season.

  • Norman

    I’m with Scot on this one, it was not as clear cut packers as is let on

  • Peter

    It should have been a Packers interception. It pains me to say it being a Vikings fan, but the Packers should have won.

  • http://www.thinktheology.org Luke Geraty

    Steve, the review actually couldn’t over-rule the horrible call on the field. See the SI article for why.

    The entire game was full of poor officiating. I am still upset, as a Green Bay fan… but I am also upset at our offensive line that made it so close.

    Offensive pass interference and then an interception called a TD. Not a good night.

  • Alan K

    No dog in this fight, but that was an interception 100 times out of 100. Anybody who ever strapped it up and put on the pads knows this.

  • http://www.thinktheology.org Luke Geraty

    http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/25/monday-night-football-ending-brings-more-heat-to-replacement-refs/

    That article essentially provides the other side of why the Seahawks should not have gotten the win.

  • http://mikeglennonline.com Mike

    Scot:

    First, the horrible miss of the PI call where the Seattle receiver pushed down the Packer DB and second, it was an interception! The receiver never had the ball until after both were on the ground. Play’s dead…

  • Clay Knick

    IMO, there was no simultaneous possession. They did not catch it at the same time. So it was not a TD, but an INT.

  • http://deadheroesdontsave.com/ MikeB

    The images posted above make it pretty clear that Seattle player (Tate) did not have simultaneous possession and that this was an INT per NFL rules:

    Rule 8 – Section 3 – Article 1 – Item 5: Simultaneous Catch. If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control. If the ball is muffed after simultaneous touching by two such players, all the players of the passing team become eligible to catch the loose ball.

  • David Dollins

    Packers were robbed. I won’t watch any more NFL games until the refs come back. Right now it’s like watching WWF wrestling, with all of its staged wins. Besides, it’s the MLB pennant races now, so we have a great substitute. Go Cards!!

  • scotmcknight

    Mike, Yes, PI but that was not called.

  • http://gospelthemes.blogspot.com/ Tom Schuessler

    Scot: Spoken like a true Bear fan. Since when does wrapping your arm around the back of the guy with the ball give you possession? The people in Vegas think this was fixed because this was the 3rd of three goofy calls all at the end of the game, well the fourth actually (the bogus roughing the passing taking away the pick by the Pack, the offensive pass interference called defensive, the push off on the last play with no call, and the catch itself).

  • scotmcknight

    Who is a ref out there?
    Question: When does one judge possession? I thought possession can’t occur until the player is on the ground/feet on the ground/pants on the ground!

  • Greg D

    Naomi #3 – Anyone can grab a ball out of a players hands or arms and call it their own. All this picture shows is the ball in the defender’s arms. I’ve seen legitimate balls caught by WRs and the ball snatched from their arms by an eager defender.

  • http://saet-online.org/category/blog Jason B. Hood

    When I played, DBs were taught to swat a Hail Mary at the end of a half or game, not catch them. If any of those defenders put a fist on the ball instead of trying to catch it, it’s a non-issue.

  • Jeff

    If Jennings had SWATTED AWAY THE BALL rather than trying to bring it down this would be a non-issue. Jennings fault for ignoring all the drills they do in practice. His ego took over and voila – something happened.

  • http://krusekronicle.com Michael W. Kruse

    I know Obama or Romney have to be implicated in this somehow. I just haven’t figured it out yet. ;-)

  • steve cymbal

    This wouldn’t be an issue if Packers played their game. Than they would have won the game for sure because they are a great team. The calls don’t necessarily matter as much as how you played the game.

  • Barb

    Hey it’s Football folks–Go Seahawks–we were robbed of a Super Bowl and we haven’t forgotten it. :)

  • Marshall

    scott @20:

    I’m not a ref, but I look up things on the internet:
    http://www.nfl.com/rulebook:

    Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3: Completed or Intercepted Pass. A player who makes a catch may advance the ball. A forward pass is complete (by the offense) or intercepted (by the defense) if a player, who is inbounds:
    (a) secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground; and
    (b) touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands; and
    (c( maintains control of the ball long enough, after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, to enable him to perform any act common to the game …

    If the defender also has the ball in his hands in shared possession, I would think that the receiver is not able to perform acts common to the game, so not a recepetion. And likewise the defender is not, so not an interception, just an incomplete pass but who cares. And see disclaimer above…

  • Rick

    I totally agree with you. I heard the hubbub on tv and from a friend and I wrongly assumed it was an obvious ref error. I don’t care about either team but the Seattle player seemed to also grab the ball and then at least control it as much or more than the Green Bay player. People just need to be outraged by something.

  • Kyle Flu

    So…it would appear that completion and control are separate concepts (the first entailing the second but the second not entailing the first) and that Jennings therefore could and did have control before touching the ground, if control could be visually confirmed in the fraction of the section in which he squeezed the ball with two hands and floated above the grasping fray and eventually gifted receiver. I say yes this kind of control could be confirmed. A better question, I think, is how a panel of judges unaware of the on-field ruling (as well as the surrounding labor issues) would see the same two frames here and videos elsewhere. Neuropsychology is revealing that even still photographs can be temporally (mis)interpreted through previous emotional or philosophical commitments — various receptors in the eyes that detect light and boundary can become more and less active during exposure based on such presuppositions.

  • Mike M

    As a Processed Cheesehead from Illinois, I have mixed emotions about Packer losses. First of all, I like them. Secondly, every single loss is followed by a week of whining about how the refs hate the Packers. Yes, that includes (at least since 1992 until last season) the first-rate referees. The call became headline news here.

  • http://www.theinfluenceproject.com Mel Lawrenz

    The game was full of bad calls, including the last play. I think it is amazing that now, on Wednesday morning, this is the top story of newscasts and other media. The word “integrity” is coming up all the time (as in “the integrity of the NFL”). A reminder, I think, that fairness in judgment is something people have not forgotten about. One could say integrity is the whole ball game.

  • Marshall

    As an AYSO ref some years ago, I found that I was the person on the field who was not allowed to make mistakes. I was also the person who had nothing at all to gain by being there (except for my aerobic benefit for the day). I found that oppressive and also a symptom of some really twisted values.

  • http://iruinsports.com jeff weddle

    The fact that this call was the motivating factor in restarting and now resolving the labor dispute, causing the NFL to fork out more cash for the real refs, is definitive proof that the call on the field was incorrect.

  • Todd Jordan

    Packers ball. I agree with Jeff. This seems to have been a motivating factor to resolving the labor dispute. Now – if we throw a ball between the Presidential candidates…..


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