The replacement official apocalypse arrived Monday night.
On the final play from scrimmage between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks -- a play that will live on lowlight reels for years -- Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson lofted a ball high into the Seattle night. Wide receiver Golden Tate committed a blatant pass interference, pushing defender Sam Shields to the ground. Safety M.D. Jennings lept high and appeared to come down with the ball. Tate tried to take the ball away after they hit the ground.
One official signaled interception. The other signaled a touchdown. The touchdown stood, and the Seahawks beat the Packers 14-12. Cue bedlam.
Throughout this standoff between the NFL and its officials, we all wondered if a replacement official would cost a team a game. We found out on "Monday Night Football." The last three weeks built to this moment.
The final call was egregious because it was so obviously wrong and came on the heels of a brutal final quarter of calls. There was a terrible pass-interference call on Packers cornerback Sam Shields during the Seahawks' second-to-last drive. There was a shaky roughing-the-passer call that wiped out a Russell Wilson interception. But nothing was as blatant as the final play.
Years from now, the final play of this game will stand as the symbol of the entire referee lockout. Tate's phantom catch guarantees the standoff won't be a moment of time lost to history. We'll talk about it all season while discussing Seattle and Green Bay's playoff chances.
Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 5 of the NFL rulebook discusses a simultaneous catch.
"If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both 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," the rule states.
The rulebook also states when a simultaneous catch is ruled, you can't review who made the catch. You can only review if it was complete or incomplete.
Jennings gained control first. That should have ended the game.
Neither have we. Let's hope we don't see it ever again.