What Bill Belichick is to cheating the NFL, Pete Carroll is to getting away with the worst calls ever. I remember the Tuesday after the infamous Fail Mary I wrote on Facebook that I may never be able to watch football again. I had seen bad calls in football, but none at the very end of the game that so severely influenced the outcome. Then came K.J. Wright.
If you haven’t seen the play, you can watch it on NFL.com now. You can see that Kam Chancellor makes a great play popping the ball out causing the fumble. You can see K.J. Wright CLEAR AS DAY gently bat the ball out of the end zone. He then starts fist bumping in celebration, knowing the play he just made had sealed the game for his Seahawks.
Why no flag you ask? Because, like pass interference, batting the ball out of bounds is a “judgement call”. The back judge claims he felt that the batted ball was unintentional, thus not deserving of a penalty. Go ahead. Watch it one more time. I’ll give you a minute.
You see it? There is NO ONE around Wright. He squares up to the football and clearly pushes the ball out of bounds. No questions asked.
Wright would admit not knowing the rules later in the evening, because as I mentioned, there was no one around him.
KJ Wright said he batted the ball out. Didn’t want to take a chance diving on it. He didn’t know the rule
— Brian Floyd (@BrianMFloyd) October 6, 2015
He could have easily laid down on the ball, even bobbled it a bit and still had time to recover it. Pete Carroll would admit later that he left Wright in the back of the end zone, just in case something like that needed to be done. It didn’t need to be done. And it was an illegal play. And once again, the Seahawks got away with it in the final seconds in prime time.
The rule states (courtesy of my friends at SB Nation):
A player may not bat or punch: (a) a loose ball (in field of play) toward opponent’s goal line; (b) a loose ball (that has touched the ground) in any direction, if it is in either end zone; (c) a backward pass in flight may not be batted forward by an offensive player.
Lions fans should feel relieved. Later in the evening, Dean Blandino, the NFL vice president of officiating offered an apology. He also said:
“You can’t bat the ball in either direction in the end zone,” Blandino said. “K.J. Wright batted the ball. That is a foul for an illegal bat.
“Yeah, looking at the replay, it looks like a bat. It looks like he takes his right hand and bats it intentionally,” Blandino said. “It’s a foul. We have to make that call.”
The bottom line is that this cost the outcome of the game. In turn, as the NFL’s prime time featured game of the week, it ruins the integrity of the game. Roger Goodell must take action. But he won’t. Why? Because he is the worst commissioner in sports history.
The back judge can claim all he wants that it didn’t appear that he batted the ball out of bounds intentionally, but there is NO QUESTION about it. This referee either didn’t know the rules (which is what I think) or purposefully ignored them.
Either way, he ruined the outcome of the game. He should be suspended for at least a game without pay and made to take a class to see what other rules he may not be aware of immediately. That won’t happen, because the NFL’s officiating department issued a heartfelt apology. That must be good enough for the Detroit Lions.
Bad calls are part of the game. Legendary bad calls live in infamy. They happen in every sport, isn’t that right Jim Joyce? There has seemingly never been any accountability placed upon these refs. Why? A simple apology, a few tears, and they think that makes everything ok? A bad call is one thing, this seems like a referee not knowing the rule book. That’s terrible, and action should be taken.
Look, Calvin Johnson is Megatron. He shouldn’t have fumbled, so maybe the Lions deserved to lose the game. But he did, and the Seahawks committed a penalty that should have put the Lions on the one yard line. And they didn’t.
No one expected the Lions to win this game, so falling to 0-4 isn’t surprising. What this call did however, is bring the reigning back-to-back NFC Champions back at .500 and very much in the diver’s seat of their own destiny. Can you imagine the momentum the Lions could have gotten with a win in Seattle on Monday night for the rest of their season?
Even worse… can you imagine if this was the Patriots?