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Blandino: K.J. Wright committed 'foul for an illegal bat'

Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor made one of the plays of the year Monday night by forcing a fumble on the goal line, saving Seattle from potentially falling to 1-3. But should the Seahawks have been called for a penalty on the play?

According to NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino, the answer is yes.

Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright batted the fumble by Calvin Johnson out of the end zone to force a touchback, but Blandino said Wright should have been penalized for illegal batting.

"You can't bat the ball in either direction in the end zone," Blandino told NFL Network Monday night. "K.J. Wright batted the ball. That is a foul for an illegal bat.

Blandino was asked directly if a penalty should have been called.

"Yeah, looking at the replay, it looks like a bat. It looks like he takes his right hand and bats it intentionally," Blandino said. "It's a foul. We have to make that call."

The Seahawks, who salted the game away 13-10, were awarded possession on a touchback after the fumble. But the penalty should have been called, which would have given the Lions the ball around the one-yard line, the original spot of the fumble.

"The back judge was on the play," Blandino noted. "In his judgement, he didn't feel it was an overt act so he didn't throw the flag. Looking at the replays, it did look like a bat."

The potential penalty is not reviewable because it is a judgement call, much like pass interference. In this case, the official appeared to determine Wright did not intentionally hit the ball. Blandino disagreed with that judgment.

As Blandino noted, you could make a case that Wright's action possibly would not have affected the play. The ball might have been heading out of bounds, anyway. But that is little consolation to the Lions, who fall to 0-4 after a crushing fumble and a crushing no-call.

Wright clearly didn't know the rules or he could have simply caught the ball. The Seattle Times noted that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll explained the rule to Wright after the game.

"I thought I was making a smart play," Wright told the Seattle Times.

Calvin Johnson already has a rule named after him related to maintaining possession of a catch all the way to the ground. Could this play also inspire an adjustment of NFL rules?

"I think it's fair to say the (competition committee) will look at this like we look at other situations that occur throughout the year and decide if we need to add it to the list of reviewable plays," Blandino told NFL Network after another wild night in Seattle that will be talked about for years.

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