The NFL released a full statement in regards to the controversial finish witnessed by millions last night in Seattle, when the Seahawks pulled out a 14-12 win over Green Bay on what appeared to be a Packers interception that was ruled a Seattle touchdown on the game's last play.
The league essentially confirms the process the officials took after the play occurred, which included an admittance of pass interference on Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate - that is not reviewable, however.
Curiously, the league pointed out because the play occurred in the end zone, a review for simultaneous possession was allowed. The officials did review it, and determined simultaneous possession existed. The NFL supports the call on the field, and the game will go into the record books as a 14-12 Seahawks victory.
Here is their release in its entirety.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NFL STATEMENT ON FINAL PLAY
OF GREEN BAY PACKERS-SEATTLE SEAHAWKS GAME
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a pass into the end zone. Several players, including
Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate and Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings, jumped into the air in an
attempt to catch the ball.
While the ball is in the air, Tate can be seen shoving Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields to the
ground. This should have been a penalty for offensive pass interference, which would have ended
the game. It was not called and is not reviewable in instant replay.
When the players hit the ground in the end zone, the officials determined that both Tate and Jennings
had possession of the ball. Under the rule for simultaneous catch, the ball belongs to Tate, the
offensive player. The result of the play was a touchdown.
Replay Official Howard Slavin stopped the game for an instant replay review. The aspects of the play
that were reviewable included if the ball hit the ground and who had possession of the ball. In the
end zone, a ruling of a simultaneous catch is reviewable. That is not the case in the field of play, only
in the end zone.
Referee Wayne Elliott determined that no indisputable visual evidence existed to overturn the call
on the field, and as a result, the on-field ruling of touchdown stood. 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 result of the game is final.
Applicable rules to the play are as follows:
A player (or players) jumping in the air has not legally gained possession of the ball until he satisfies
the elements of a catch listed here.
Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3 of the NFL Rule Book defines a catch:
A forward pass is complete (by the offense) or intercepted (by the defense) if a player, who is
(a) secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground; and
(b) touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his
(c) maintains control of the ball long enough, after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, to enable him
to perform any act common to the game (i.e., maintaining control long enough to pitch it, pass
it, advance with it, or avoid or ward off an opponent, etc.).
When a player (or players) is going to the ground in the attempt to catch a pass, Rule 8, Section 1,
Article 3, Item 1 states:
Player Going to the Ground. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with
or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball throughout the process
of contacting the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the
ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he
regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.
Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 5 states:
Simultaneous Catch. If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both
players retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player
gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control. If the ball is muffed after
simultaneous touching by two such players, all the players of the passing team become eligible
to catch the loose ball.