Kam Chancellor's forced fumble and K.J. Wright's illegal batting of the ball were the most memorable part of the Seahawks' 13-10 victory over the Lions on "Monday Night Football." A sampling of what the media had to say about it all.
There’s something about that north end zone at CenturyLink Field on “Monday Night Football,” isn’t there?
For the second time in four seasons, the Seahawks found a way to escape with a low-scoring victory over an NFC North team with Golden Tate in said end zone on the climactic play.
This time, the controversy was set up by a spectacular defensive play by Kam Chancellor, who managed to punch the ball out of Calvin Johnson’s hands right before he crossed the goal line for a go-ahead touchdown. As the ball bounced through the end zone, K.J. Wright batted the ball out of bounds.
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What first appeared to be a run-of-the-mill touchback turned out to be a blown call by the officials. According to the NFL rule book, what Wright did should have been penalized and the ball should have been given back to the Lions with ample opportunity to score. Even with the Lions seemingly resigned to their cursed fate, the Seahawks knew they got away with one.
Instead, the Seahawks held on for a 13-10 victory that got them back to .500 this season. Sure, there are still issues with Russell Wilson living dangerously behind that offensive line and trying to get Jimmy Graham to fit into the offense. But for Seattle, a win is a win.
For the national media, however, there was more than passing interest in that final defensive sequence involving Chancellor and Wright.
Peter King of Monday Morning Quarterback said the Lions, and the sport of football, lost on Monday night:
“This play absolutely, unequivocally should be reviewable. (Back judge Greg) Wilson just missed it, and there was no one from ref Tony Corrente’s crew with a better view to overrule him. (NFL vice president of officiating Dean) Blandino saw it clearly in New York. And just because a back judge erred, and because of the rules over what can and can’t be reviewed, Blandino had to sit in the replay command center in midtown Manhattan and throw his hands in the air as he saw a potentially grievous error being made. Had the play been called correctly, Detroit would have had four chances to get 18 inches to win a game.”
Sports Illustrated’s Doug Farrar said the blown call will be of little solace to the Lions:
“Small consolation for the Lions, who moved to 0-4 and had only themselves to blame before the strange call. Many of the same issues that had plagued Detroit throughout this season showed up again here—spotty production, questionable play-calling, and an inability to sustain drives at a repeatable rate. … The defense played well against a Seattle offense that was playing without the injured Marshawn Lynch, and is sporting perhaps the worst offensive line in the NFL, but in the end, none of that mattered. This one hurt in a unique way.”
Brian Burke of ESPN.com put a statistical spin on how significant the missed call was:
“It swung each team’s chances (of winning the game) by about 74%. It’s very rare that single events in football even approach that big of a swing. The difference between the 84.3% chance following the hypothetical illegal batting penalty and the Lions’ 11.4% chance following the touchback means the missed call would be a 73.8% error. That might not be as big as the ‘Fail Mary’ call in the Green Bay-Seattle game on Monday night three years ago, which was a clear cut 100% swing in each team’s fortunes, but it’s close.”
NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling had observations on the controversial play but also had praise for Kam Chancellor’s impact on the defense:
“Since Chancellor returned to the starting lineup, opposing possessions have resulted in 18 punts, one fumble and a field goal. Seattle’s Legion of Boom defense has not allowed a touchdown in the last 18 regular-season quarters with Chancellor on the field. While that is partially attributed to quality of opponent, it’s the sign of a historically great defense clicking on all cylinders.”
CBSSports.com’s Jared Dubin couldn’t believe the game ended the way it did:
“It’s honestly hard to believe this wound up being such a heartbreaking loss for the Lions, now 0-4, given how lifeless they looked for most of the evening. The defense showed up well and hounded Russell Wilson all night, but the offense was so impotent that it didn’t seem like the defense’s performance would matter at all. It took one of the strangest confluences of events I can ever remember to set up a loss that no one — least of all the Lions and their fans — will soon forget.”
Frank Schwab of Yahoo Sports’ Shutdown Corner blog said the Seahawks should consider themselves lucky:
“But if Seahawks fans are being honest with themselves, there’s a lot more relief than joy over the win, and the win put a big spotlight on a lot of concerning issues moving forward. A 1-3 start for the Seahawks would have been really difficult to get out of, and that was very, very close to that happening.”
ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia said the Seahawks avoided a juicy what-if thanks to Chancellor’s play and missed call:
“What-if scenarios exist in every NFL game, but this one is more credible than most. Playing at home against a winless opponent, the Seahawks nearly blew a 13-3 lead in the final 8:42. The offensive line was a disaster, giving up six sacks and many more pressures. Russell Wilson was forced to escape defenders all game and fumbled twice, one of which led to a Lions defensive touchdown. Although the defense looked great for most of the night, it allowed the Lions to go 90 yards with the game on the line before (Kam) Chancellor saved the day. When you’re on the right side of a botched call, it’s easy to say the breaks will even out and one play didn’t determine the result. But for the Seahawks, it’s worth acknowledging they could easily be staring 1-3 in the face with a trip to Cincinnati looming.”
Nate Davis of USA Today said it was just another Monday night in Seattle:
“(Coincidentally), it occurred in the very same end zone where the Seahawks benefited from the Fail Mary play three years ago on the same Monday Night Football stage that marked the final game overseen by replacement officials. On this night, the regular zebras weren’t much better.”
Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press said the NFL owes the Lions an apology, but that shouldn’t let the Lions off the hook:
“And while there will certainly come a torrent of public outrage in Detroit today over the league ‘sticking it to the Lions once more,’ it’s important remembering that the Lions really only have themselves to blame for placing themselves at the mercy of a bad call. Get mad at the refs if you wish. But you better save the proper amount of venom for an offense that only produced a second-quarter field goal. The offense didn’t reach the red zone through the game’s first 58 minutes. That’s inexcusable, especially considering the Herculean effort of the rest of the Lions – six sacks, three fumble recoveries, including one for the Lions’ only touchdown.”
The Detroit News’ John Niyo can’t believe another officiating controversy involving Calvin Johnson happened:
“By the time his career is done, (Calvin) Johnson, who turned 30 last week and probably felt 60 on the plane ride home to Detroit, should have his own appendix in the NFL rule book. Five years ago, it was Johnson failing to ‘complete the process’ in a gut-wrenching, season-opening loss at Chicago. Monday, it was an ‘illegal bat’ — Rule 12, Section 4, Article 1 — that wasn’t called. … And when asked if an apology offered any solace, Johnson, who actually tied Herman Moore’s franchise record for receptions on that play, smiled wryly and said, ‘Nah, it’s still 0-4.'”