Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Seattle Screw: The Aftermath

With the Packers holding on to a 12-7 lead late in Monday's eventual "loss" to Seattle, I texted a friend/co-worker, a Vikings fan who was enamored with the way Green Bay clawed back and took the lead.

Livid at two horrific calls against the Packers in a Seattle drive, and already practically foaming at the mouth after the shenanigans at the Metrodome Sunday*, I had seen enough.

(* - If you missed it -- and I'm not sure how you could have -- the replacement officials in the 49ers-Vikings game allowed San Francisco two timeouts over and above the three each team is allocated in a half. This happened because 49ers coach and raging lunatic Jim Harbaugh called a timeout after a play to stop the clock, then persuaded the overmatched, clueless referee to let him challenge that the Vikings fumbled on the play. When said clueless referee ruled -- incorrectly -- that the Vikings fumbled, he gave San Francisco the ball and gave back the timeout. On Minnesota's next possession, the same scenario played out, only the call was upheld and the 49ers were actually charged the timeout.)

I told my buddy that I was done watching NFL games until the real officials were allowed to return. At the time, the Packers led 12-7, but had just seen an interception nullified for a bad roughing the passer call, and then an atrocious pass interference penalty called on the Packers got Seattle out of what should have been second and 25.

It was as if I was foreseeing the future.

Just a few minutes later, one of the worst calls in NFL history took a win away from the Packers and handed it to Seattle.

(Wasn't the worst. It's Week 3, and these are unqualified replacement officials.)

That seals it.

I decided there would be no more live NFL football for me, until the league figures out that it's damaging its product in ways money can't take care of. What a coincidence that has happened, with word coming Wednesday that the real officials will likely return this weekend.

The NFL has embraced things that are good for business, like fantasy football, because they aren't things that are harmful to the integrity of the product.

The NFL then suspended a bunch of Saints players and coaches for their roles in the bounty scandal, largely under the guise of protecting the integrity of the product.

However, it's clear that the league has forgotten the importance of "The Shield," as Commissioner Roger Goodell describes it.

The replacement officials damaged the integrity of the sport in ways that the Saints players couldn't dream of, even with the most blatant bounty.

It's positively insulting that the NFL hadn't moved to make a deal with the Referees Association until this week, and only because of what happened in the Green Bay game Monday.

The league has been asking -- practically begging -- for a team to get screwed or a star player to get seriously injured by an uncalled illegal hit, ever since allowing replacement officials to work games that count.

So far, we've avoided (mostly) players getting maimed by illegal hits, though the headshot on Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bay on Sunday was pretty egregious.

Monday, though, was pretty bad.

The end of the game was bad enough. But it never should have come to that. After Green Bay scored to take a 12-7 lead, Russell Wilson was intercepted along the Green Bay sideline on a tipped ball. As Wilson threw, he was hit low by Green Bay linebacker Erik Walden, who was called for roughing the passer. So, now, you can't hit the quarterback when he has the ball.

Later in the drive, on a first-and-25, Sam Shields ran a better route than Sidney Rice did, causing Rice to grab and pull at Shields to prevent an interception. Shields was called for pass interference, so instead of second-and-25, Seattle had a first down in Green Bay territory.

It's water under the bridge now, but still highly irritating. We all knew it was coming. A team was going to see a win taken away by these clowns, and it happened to be my favorite team.

Hopefully, the Packers can use this as further motivation to go on a run. The defense has played exceptionally well recently. The offense made some nice adjustments to slow down Seattle's pass rush Monday after eight first-half sacks, and those moves are ones Mike McCarthy has to remember. The best way to ruin this season is to abandon the run, open the Packers up to pass pressure, and get Aaron Rodgers killed.

Cedric Benson isn't explosive, but he's a chain-mover. As long as the Packers are keeping him going in the offense, they should be just fine. 1-2 sucks, but it's not anything that can't be rallied from.

(Oh, and Seattle's going to be pretty good, too. They can rush the quarterback, have a big and physical secondary, and Marshawn Lynch is really good. I'm still not sold on San Francisco -- look at the Minnesota game, which the Vikings controlled from the start -- and I think Seattle is a real threat in that division.)

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