BOSTON (CBS) — The NFL has already admitted their officials made a big boo-boo at the end of Monday night’s Seahawks-Lions game in Seattle.
The blown call happened late in the fourth quarter, with the Lions trailing 13-10 but driving and looking to take a lead with 1:45 left. Quarterback Matthew Stafford hit Calvin Johnson with a short pass, and Johnson made a run to the end zone. But Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor knocked the ball out of the receiver’s hands at the one-yard line, sending the loose ball into the end zone.
Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright saw the ball and gave it a little push out of bounds. Back judge Gregory Wilson was standing just a few feet away from Wright and ruled a touchback, giving Seattle the ball at their own 20-yard line. The Seahawks ran out the rest of the clock and walked away with the 13-10 win.
The problem is, Wright should have been flagged for an “illegal bat,” which is explained in Rule 12, Section 4, Article 1 of the NFL rulebook. It defines an illegal bat as an instance where “any player bats or punches a loose ball (that has touched the ground) in any direction, if it is in either end zone.” Wright even admitted after the game that he intentionally sent the ball out of the end zone, not knowing such a move was an infraction.
“That is a foul,” NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said after the game. “We have to make that call.”
Detroit should have retained possession and had the ball at the Seattle half-yard line, with a fresh set of downs. The call, however, is not reviewable and could not be reversed on the field.
Expect that to be brought up after the season when the rules committee meets. Maybe now teams will listen when Bill Belichick wonders why coaches can’t challenge everything — including missed calls and non-calls by officials.
So NFL officials screwed up, big time, and likely cost Detroit their first win of the season. Admitting they made a mistake is nice, but don’t expect the Lions or their fans to feel any better about the situation.
There must be something about those end zones in Seattle that make referees (regulars or fill-ins) forget the rule book.