The Call That Broke The Zebra’s Backs (Brought The Zebras Back?)

I can’t remember the last time there has been a more dramatic weekend in the NFL. Not even the Superbowl brings as much drama as there was throughout the day yesterday. And then to cap it off the way it was tonight? In-sane.

I had another post planned for tonight. I was going to dive into the deep end of some interesting Vikings stats and rankings through the third game (still may do that later). But honestly, how could I possibly talk about anything else after that?

There’s no doubt about it, the Seahawks played their tails off in that game. I was drooling at the prospect of having a secondary that even closely resembled the way they were shutting down the Packer’s receivers in the first half. The Seahawks played with intensity and were far more physical than the Packers. While they could never really seem to get going on offense, they were able to maintain a lead throughout most of the game because of the havoc they caused for last year’s NFL MVP (the man we all love to hate), Aaron Rodgers. It could be argued that, despite the blown call at the end of the game, the Seahawks were the better team tonight. And it sucks that no one will be talking about that.

Which game’s officiating was worse?

Before we were all talking about tonight’s officiating catastrophe, a lot of the criticism this weekend for the replacement officials stemmed from our very own Vikings game against the 49ers. (Which was amazing and incredible and beautiful and the best thing ever.) I would argue that the circus of officiating mistakes was worse in the Vikings game than tonight’s match-up between the Packers and the Seahawks. The difference? Our mistakes didn’t directly change the outcome of the game. As soon as the Packers and Seahawks were wrestling for that ball in the endzone, I knew it was about to hit the fan. That awkward moment where both referees ran up and kind of just stared at the two on the ground for a few seconds was intense. I can guarantee Roger Goodell was sitting somewhere just begging the ref through his TV, “Please don’t put your hands up! Please don’t put your hands up!… Noooooo!”

Had the 49ers came back and somehow won the game on Sunday after that series of blundered calls, the discussion everyone is having now would have happened 24 hours ago. Everyone knew this was bound to happen at some point.

This isn’t the first time blown calls have determined the outcome of a Packers game.

I know we’d all love to believe that these types of mistakes are exclusive to replacement refs. I’m here to remind you they are not. Let me take you back in time. In 2010, the Vikings lost to the Packers by four points at Lambeau Field. It was quite the controversial game because there were some very, very questionable touchdown calls that majorly affected the final score. Shortly after the game was over, the NFL admitted that the refs had blown two touchdown calls. One of them was a pass from Rodgers to tight end Andrew Quarless. The touchdown call should have been ruled an incompletion as Quarless bobbled the ball as he fell out of bounds. On another play, the Vikings tight end, Visanthe Shiancoe, caught a pass from Brett Favre that was ruled a touchdown on the field. Even though Shiancoe clearly maintained control of the ball, the ruling was overturned.

Now, I’m not trying to lessen the severity of the mistakes the officials made tonight, I’m just pointing out that these things aren’t new. Sometimes they cost you a game, sometimes they win you one… Regardless, I think it’s safe to say that it always sucks when games are decided by the officials.

Now will the NFL bring the real officials back?!

I’m not so sure… Immediately after tonight’s events I was convinced that this would be the straw that broke the camel’s back. The uproar from fans, the media, players, coaches would just be too much for the NFL to ignore at this point. But then I got to thinking… I wonder what tonight’s games ratings were? I wonder how many people are now currently reading about football when they may have not after your normal Monday Night Football game? Think of how many people are tweeting about the NFL right now, how many news stations are talking about the NFL and how many hours over the next week will be spent talking about nothing other than the NFL. NFL NFL NFL. Other sports will hardly exist the remainder of the week. Sure, the things being said probably won’t be good… But still, they say any publicity is good publicity.

You think people won’t be back to watch next week? Are you going to purposely miss the Vikings game against the Lions this Sunday? I bet you there are more people watching next week.

We love drama. And tonight’s game coupled with last night’s game between the Ravens and the Patriots are some of the most dramatic games in my recent memory. (That’s not including Vikings games, of course. Those are always dramatic.)

The NFL could very well move very quickly to save face and get a deal done with the referees union. They could understand that a lot of people are upset with what these replacement officials have done to the season so far. Or, they could say, “Holy crap. Our ratings have never been higher. Screw the integrity of the game,” and keep things as-is.

Your thoughts?

Personally, through my purple glasses, this shouldn’t even be an issue – it was obviously a beautiful touchdown catch by Golden Tate… Seriously, though – I am legitimately concerned about going up against the Seahawks defense. And is it too early to start thinking that the Vikings might be the best team in the NFC North right now? Our fellow divisional rivals have not looked as good as expected this season. (Sorry, I just finished a huge glass of purple kool-aid.)

What do you guys think? Does tonight’s game the screw-up that gets the regular referees back on the field? If so, how long do you think it will take? What are some other majorly botched calls that changed the winner of a game throughout NFL history?