With all of the hand-wringing nationally and in the Green Bay locker room over whether or not Seattle receiver Golden Tate made the catch in the end zone that gave Seattle a 14-12 victory, Seattle Seahawks players were not apologizing for the decision made at the end of the game.
Tate tied up the ball with Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings in the back of the end zone, and both of the player fought for the ball while the official conferred for a second before determining that Tate had enough of the ball to call simultaneous possession and a touchdown.
“I was just trying to keep possession of the ball,” Tate said. “The guy who was fighting with me was strong. So I was just trying to hold onto it until our guys pulled him off of me.
“I didn’t know if they called touchdown, interception, or incompletion. I didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t hear anything, so I just tried to keep fighting for the ball.”
Seattle lined up in a trips open set, with Tate the lone receiver on the left side of the formation on the final play.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said that Tate initially was the first read, but covered. He checked back to the other side of the field for Sidney Rice, but then rolled left to distort the defense, and flicked it to the far corner of the end zone for Tate to make a play.
“It was a great catch, a great play,” Wilson said. “Obviously, it was a tough call. But at the same time we gave ourselves a chance.”
The Seahawks were 0 for 5 last season on potential game-winning drives – and 0 for 6 if you count the Arizona game two weeks ago. So for Seattle to finally figure out a way to win a game in the final moments was seen as a breakthrough for Seattle head coach Pete Carroll.
“It was a simultaneous catch, that’s how he called it,” Carroll said. “Tie goes to the runner. Good call. It gives us an extraordinary win, and an extraordinary message about hanging to the very last second.”
Of course, the Packers did not see it the same way.
“I felt like I had total control of the ball,” M.D. Jennings said. “I was very shocked. But, the refs got the last say, so it is what it is.”
Added Green Bay receiver Greg Jennings: “I think if you asked Golden Tate to take a lie detector test and ask him did he catch the ball, or did M.D. catch that ball, M.D. caught that. It was clear as day.”
Here’s what referee Wayne Elliott had to say about the final play when asked by pool reporter Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times.
“The ruling on the final play was a simultaneous catch,” he said. “Reviewed by replay. Play stands. Both players goes to the offense.
Asked if it matters if one player has two hands on the ball and one player has one hand on the ball, Elliott said: “They both possessed it.”
Lost in all the drama of the final play was a spectacular performance by the defense.
Seattle held one of the best offenses in the league scoreless for the first half, keeping the Packers to 87 total yards.
The Seahawks totaled eight sacks in the first half, including four by defensive end Chris Clemons, tying a league record for sacks in the first half set by former Kansas City outside linebacker Derrick Thomas in 1992.
Rookie Bruce Irvin had a breakout performance with two sacks, and Brandon Mebane continues to play like a Pro Bowl-caliber nose tackle with two sacks inside.
Linebacker K.J. Wright led Seattle in tackles with 11 combined tackles, followed by Kam Chancellor with 10 and Bobby Wagner with eight.
“It never really crossed my mind,” Clemons said about tying the record. “My thing was to just go out and work on my rushes as much as I do in practice. Just continue to rush throughout the play and never give up.”
Offensively, the Seahawks did a nice job of handling Green Bay pass rush specialist Clay Matthews. The USC product finished with no sacks, three tackles and one quarterback pressure.
Wilson was sacked just once on the game. However, the Seahawks still struggled to consistently move the ball through the air. Wilson was 10 of 21 for 130 yards and two touchdowns. He finished with a 99.3 passer rating.
Seattle had five, three-and-outs and finished 2 of 11 on third down.
Marshawn Lynch and Seattle’s running game once again carried the team offensively. Lynch finished with 98 yards on 25 carries.
“The ultimate goal is to win, and that’s all we care about,” Wilson said. “It doesn’t matter what the situation. It doesn’t matter how we win – whether I’m throwing for 500 yards, or a hundreds yards with the defense making plays – whatever it is, all we care about is wining. That’s what we work for every single day we wake up.
“And so offense we could have done a better job definitely, especially in the second half. I think we did a good job in the first half. We could have done a better job in the second half for sure, and I take the blame for it. I just got to keep growing, keep making some throws and maybe stay in the pocket just a little bit longer.”
Seattle punter Jon Ryan had an outstanding game, which really helped the Seahawks control field position. Ryan had punts of 73 and 66 yards, an finished with a net average of 49.5 yards a punt.