SEATTLE — How amazing was the Hail Mary that Russell Wilson threw to Golden Tate that gave the Seahawks the most unlikely win in their history?
It was so good it just might have ended the lockout, might have signaled the end of the replacement officials, might have finally brought sanity back to the NFL.
Because as great as this win was for Seattle, as deliciously improbable as it was, as dramatic as this Monday Night classic became, the final play was a huge embarrassment for the league.
And the controversy from this last play will linger for weeks.
This is what happens when amateurs are asked to call a professional game. This is the result of the deal with the devil the NFL made. This is what happens when the league is more concerned with winning a labor dispute than it is with maintaining the integrity of its product.
Yes, this was the most indescribably spectacular win in franchise history. Yes, it was a game that will go down in Seahawks lore and NFL infamy. A Monday Night legend. An instant classic.
The Seahawks were dead. Reduced to the kind of fourth-down, wing-and-a-prayer that we see almost every weekend in the NFL. The kind of play that almost always falls disappointingly to the turf, as innocent as a leaf in October.
This was a night that would turn from hopeless to miraculous. This was the night of THE PASS.
From the Packers’ 24-yard line, on the final play of the night, Wilson spun to his left, away from the Green Bay pass rush. He steadied himself, scanned left, scanned right and floated a ball toward the left corner of the end zone, where there seemed to be more Packers than Seahawks.
And now here came the controversy and the chaos and the embarrassment.
Seahawks receiver Golden Tate shoved Packers cornerback Sam Shields. He should have been called for interference. But, with Shields out of the way, Tate went after the ball with Packers safety M.D. Jennings.
It appeared Jennings caught the pass first, then as they were on the ground, Tate outmuscled Jennings and wrestled the ball from him.
“I think if you asked Golden Tate to take a lie-detector test and asked him did he catch that ball or did M.D. catch the ball, M.D. caught that. It was clear as day,” said Packers receiver Greg Jennings.
The replacement officials, standing by the dog pile in front of them, looked at each other, looked at Tate and slowly, uncertainly raised their hands, one signaling touchdown, the other a touchback, meaning the pass had been intercepted.
Remember Leslie Nielsen playing the umpire in “Naked Gun?” That’s what this final call looked like.
The officials eventually ruled it a simultaneous catch. Touchdown Seahawks.
“Tie goes to the runner,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after the 14-12 victory. “Great call.”
It was another lousy call from officials who don’t belong on the field with players this good. Games this well played, this ferocious aren’t supposed to end on this kind of uncertainty.
Bring the real officials back. It’s past time. This can’t be allowed to happen again.
After the ruling there was a review. And after it was ruled a Seahawks touchdown there was an announcement that the game was over.
Then the teams were called back so that Steven Hauschka could kick the PAT. Awkward.
“What a night. Gol-ly,” Carroll said.
The Seahawks were twice dead.
“I told the guys on the sidelines don’t give up,” Wilson said.
And then came the pass. Put it in capital letters. The Pass. Write it boldly in headlines. THE PASS. Despite this controversy it still was a moment of magic.
It was Joe Montana-to-Dwight Clark. It was a 21st-Century Doug Flutie.
It was the kind of play that will be remembered in December when the playoff berths are decided. And isn’t it ironic that the quarterback the 5-foot-11 rookie Wilson is most compared with is the under-six-foot Flutie?
This was the kind of pass that will be remembered 50 years from now, when grandparents tell their kids that they were there among the dazed and the crazed 68,000 at CenturyLink.
“I still don’t feel that that happened,” Carroll said. “It’s still taking some time to sink in. I even saw him raise his hands and everything and still didn’t believe it.”
I’m not sure the officials believed it either. And after the game, even Carroll admitted it was time to bring the real officials back to the game.
Do you believe in miracles?
This should be remembered as the Hail Mary that ended a labor dispute.