In the Green Bay locker room, players groaned and threw towels after seeing the replay of the final, controversial call in the Seahawks' victory.
Amid the chaos, confusion and outrage that marked the end of Monday’s game, from Green Bay’s standpoint, Packers safety M.D. Jennings was unequivocal in his conclusion.
“I had total control of the ball,” he said.
The replacement officials, of course, ruled otherwise, awarding the touchdown to Golden Tate, and thus the 14-12 victory to the Seahawks.
When the replay of the final play was shown on a television in the Packers’ locker room — the first time most of the players had seen it — the room erupted in catcalls and groans. A few even threw towels at the screen.
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“He picked it clean,” one player called out derisively.
Said wide receiver Greg Jennings: “I was just watching in the back room. I think if you asked Golden Tate to take a lie-detector test and ask him did he catch the ball or did M.D. catch that ball … M.D. caught that. It was clear as day. At least that’s what my eyes saw.”
Charles Woodson, the veteran Packers defensive back, was asked if this game, replete with controversial calls and capped by disorder on the field after the final play, all in front of a national audience, could be the tipping point to ending the NFL’s labor dispute with officials.
“It’ll have a lot to do with it,” Woodson said.
He said that after watching the replay, “To me, it clearly looks like he had the interception, and they gave it to the other team.”
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers added, “It was awful. Just look at the replay, and then the fact it was reviewed. It’s awful. That’s all I’m going to say about that.”
Rodgers was asked if he had ever experienced such mass chaos after a game, as both teams flooded the field, along with photographers and reporters.
“No,” he replied. “It was crazy after the game. … No one had any idea of what was going on. From my view, I saw the referee in the back waving his arms, which means he’s calling a touchback. I have no idea how the other guy said, ‘Touchdown, Golden Tate.’ On the replay, he takes his arm off the part of the ball that he may or may not have had. Then they reviewed it, and it was upheld.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy flatly declined to discuss the officiating. He said he didn’t get a good view of the final play as it unfolded in real time, and hadn’t yet seen a replay.
“I just saw the reaction, like most people,” he said. “Obviously, the communication from our players is that they (the Packers) had the ball. … I was told M.D. Jennings intercepted the ball.”
Jennings, one of several Packers defenders who went up for Russell Wilson’s Hail Mary pass, said he was “very shocked” when he saw the touchdown signal. He used the same two words to describe his reaction when the score was upheld.
“It (the ball) was pinned to my chest the whole time, even when we were on the pile,” Jennings said.
Tate, Jennings said, “was fighting for it. He was trying to get the ball out.” But Jennings declared he “most definitely” had the ball cleanly in his hands.
Jennings said he considered just knocking the ball down, but “at the last minute I saw Charles (Woodson) and Sam (Shields) go up for it. I could see it going through their hands, so I just tried to go ahead and get it and make the play.
“It’s very heartbreaking, but we have to put this behind us and keep moving on.”