Officials signal a touchdown by Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate, obscured, on the last play of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 14-12.
AP Photo by Stephen Brashear
SEATTLE — Cornerback Richard Sherman couldn’t bring himself to watch the final play, sitting on the bench, staring at the field and praying.
Safety Earl Thomas couldn’t see from his position on the sidelines.
Quarterback Russell Wilson never took his eyes off the pass he threw into the corner of the end zone where Golden Tate leapt amid a thicket of Green Bay defenders for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown in Seattle’s 14-12 victory.
“I saw it all the way,” Wilson said.
Believing it? That was something else as Seattle won on the final play of a game that will be remembered for a variety of reasons, from the controversial officiating to the breathtaking comeback to the jaw-dropping, head-scratching finale in which officials ruled that Tate and a Packers defender simultaneously possessed the ball and awarded Seattle a 24-yard touchdown.
It took several minutes and a replay review, and both teams had to be summoned back to the field to kick the extra point. Green Bay left town steaming, the rest of the country was debating the validity of that final call on Tate’s touchdown and Seattle was pinching itself.
“For our fans and everybody,” coach Pete Carroll said. “I know you can’t ask for more than winning on the last play of the game on Monday Night Football when all else looks like it’s dead and gone. So I’m excited for everybody to enjoy it. I still don’t really know. I still don’t feel that it happened. It didn’t sink in. I even saw the hands go up and all that stuff.”
This was the kind of game that defied belief.
For the first two quarters, Seattle played the kind of defense that leaves bruises and cripples offenses, shutting out the Packers in the first half. The Seahawks led 7-0 on Tate’s 41-yard touchdown pass from Wilson.
The Packers crossed midfield only once in the first half, and never got inside Seattle’s 40-yard line, but they came back and scored on each of their first three possessions of the second half. Mason Crosby kicked two field goals, and Green Bay took the lead on Cedric Benson’s 1-yard touchdown run with 8:44 remaining in the game.
As tough as Seattle’s defense was in the first half, it was the Seahawks’ offense that made you cringe.
Seattle didn’t attempt a pass in the third quarter, and a 32-yard penalty for defensive pass interference against the Packers was responsible for Seattle’s longest gain of the second half.
And yet as the game ended, Seattle still had a chance
Two of them actually, and both got plenty of help from the officials.
That was one of three calls that were scrutinized in the final half of the fourth quarter, all going in favor of Seattle. A roughing-the-passer penalty nullified what would have been an interception thrown by Russell on Seattle’s second-to-last possession. The pass-interference penalty sustained the drive after Seattle had faced first-and-25 though Seattle eventually turned it over on downs at the Green Bay 7-yard line.
The Packers punted it back to Seattle, who got the ball with 46 seconds remaining. A 22-yard pass to Sidney Rice put Seattle at the Green Bay 24.
And on the fourth and final play, Wilson threw to the corner.
Contrary to what you might have heard, the Seahawks did not grab a victory out of thin air Monday night.
“I just fought for it,” Tate said. “I continued to fight for it. Some scratching, some pulling, might even have been some biting.”
There was certainly a little shoving, Tate pushing Sam Shields down before he leapt for the ball.
M.D. Jennings jumped up and grabbed the ball, but officials ruled Tate possessed it simultaneously.
The play was reviewed on replay, and it stood.
“Both players have possession, it goes to the offense,” referee Wayne Elliott said in a pool report after the game.