The NFL conceded Tuesday that a bad call cost the Green Bay Packers the game while upholding the Seattle Seahawks' victory.
As coaches, players and fans — and even athletes in other sports — ripped the use of replacement refs, the league met with its locked-out officials Tuesday in an attempt to resolve the impasse.
Two people with knowledge of the talks told The Associated Press that the sides were meeting Tuesday. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were not made public.
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The NFL said Seattle's last-second touchdown pass Monday should not have been overturned — but acknowledged Seahawks receiver Golden Tate should have been called for offensive pass interference before the catch for a 14-12 victory.
The ire around football at the struggles of the replacements had been steadily building this season, and it reached an apex Monday with what everybody had feared would happen: a highly questionable call deciding a game.
On the final play of "Monday Night Football," Russell Wilson heaved a 24-yard pass into a scrum in the end zone with Seattle trailing 12-7. Tate shoved away a defender with both hands, and the NFL acknowledged Tuesday he should have been penalized, which would have clinched a Packers victory. But that cannot be reviewed by instant replay.
Tate and Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings then both got their hands on the ball, though the Packers insisted Jennings had clear possession for a game-ending interception.
"It was pinned to my chest the whole time," Jennings said.
Instead, the officials ruled on the field that the two had simultaneous possession, which counts as a reception. Once that happened, the NFL said, the referee was correct that no indisputable visual evidence existed on review to overturn the touchdown call.
"The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the video today and supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review," the league said in a statement.
Saying there was no indisputable evidence, though, is not the same as confirming the initial call was correct. When the players came down with the ball, television showed one official standing over the pile ruling touchdown, while another next to him did not signal a score.
On his weekly appearance on Seattle radio station 710 KIRO-AM, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made no apologies Tuesday, saying, "The league backed it up and game over, we win."
"Golden makes an extraordinary effort. It's a great protection; it's a great throw. It's a great attempt at the ball and he wins the battle," he said. "They were right on the point looking right at it, standing right over the thing and they reviewed it. Whether they missed the push or not — obviously they missed the push in the battle for the ball — but that stuff goes on all the time."
The flap over the game drew commentary on the campaign trail, too. President Barack Obama weighed in Tuesday afternoon, tweeting personally from his official Twitter account, "NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs' lockout is settled soon. -bo."
His rival Mitt Romney's running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin-bred Packers fan, was less egalitarian at a town hall in Cincinnati Tuesday.
"It is time to get the real refs. And you know what, it reminds me of President Obama and the economy. If you can't get it right, it is time to get out," he said.
"I half think these refs work part-time for the Obama administration in the Budget Office," he continued. "They see a debt crisis, and they just ignore and pretend it didn't even happen. They are trying to pick the winners and losers and they don't even do that very well."
The NFL locked out the officials in June after their contract expired. Unable to reach a new collective bargaining agreement, the league opened the season with replacements, most with experience only in lower levels of college football.