The Green Bay Packers are moving on to the NFC Championship Game after defeating the Seattle Seahawks at home 28-23. Right at the two-minute mark on third-and-9, Aaron Rodgers hit his tight end, and former Seahawk, Jimmy Graham for a reception. The officials initially gave Graham a first down on the play.
It was reviewed for several minutes to see if Graham got the first down:
Another angle of the catch:
The play was initially ruled a first down, so the officials needed conclusive video evidence to overturn it. If the play had stood, it was probably going to be the last play of the game, as the Seahawks were out of timeouts. There were multiple angles that the officials were looking at.
These two shots might be one of the most conclusive of all — look at how much of Graham’s body, including the ball, are past the first-down mark:
It took about four minutes, but on the review the officials confirmed that the call for a first down was right, and the play stood. Take a look at where Fox’s yellow line is compared to the first-down marker, too — it’s slightly in front of the actual marker instead of right on it:
Even if Graham was slightly short of the yellow line, he probably already crossed the marker anyway.
Another angle the officials were looking at:
What’s strange is that after the play was confirmed as a first down, the official came on the mic again before the next snap to say that “additional footage” came into the replay booth. But that footage still didn’t overturn the play.
The other thing to keep in mind is that this throw was made on third down, so even if the officials called it short, the Packers still could have picked up the first down on fourth and what probably would have been inches.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was upset with how the review turned out, expectedly:
“My guys were just telling me it was short,” Carroll told reporters after the game. “It looked short and had they called him short, then it would’ve been short … that’s how it goes sometimes.”
Let’s just say Seattle fans weren’t too happy about the spot on Twitter, likewise.
We’ve seen this type of game-ending controversy before, both in the NFL and college. The Seahawks-Packers touchdown-interception otherwise referred to as the “Fail Mary” will go down in history forever. Week 17’s 49ers-Seahawks game came down to literally one inch in the final seconds. At the college level, Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett’s first-down spot from the 2016 Ohio State-Michigan game is definitely still being argued about today. (Speaking of that 2016 play, Delano Hill made the tackle on Barrett, and he’s now with the Seahawks and made the tackle on Graham on the play. Small world!)
As long as you have human officials, there are going to be some calls that might look like they could’ve gone the other way, depending on where you stand as a fan. It sure looked like Graham did indeed get the first down on certain angles, and since the catch was ruled a first down on the field, it’s not easy to overturn the call on the field without inconclusive evidence. That’s what happened to the Seahawks on Sunday night.