For the second straight week, NFL replacement referees have figured in highly publicized disputed plays. And on Monday night (Sept. 24), the substitute officials directly figured in a game-deciding play.
According to many media reports, the Seattle Seahawks were awarded a last-second touchdown on a bizarre Hail Mary play on which Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings appeared to come down with an interception that was later deemed to be a Golden Tate game-winning reception. The score eventually gave Seattle a 14-12 victory.
"That was two of the worst calls at the end of a football game that I can remember," commentator Jon Gruden said on ESPN, which televised the game nationally.
"I love this league and love the game of football, but tonight’s debacle hurts me greatly. This is NOT the league we’re supposed to represent."
-- Drew Brees
USA TODAY reported that Tate had also pushed off a defender with two hands before making his disputed catch.
The attached video from YouTube shows the disputed play in Monday's game. Also, it shows confusion on the part of the referees, with one signaling touchdown and the other making the signal to stop the clock.
The previous Monday, replacement refs mishandled several plays in the Atlanta Falcons-Denver Broncos game at the Georgia Dome.
The league has locked out its regular referees in a pension dispute.
Of course, the controversy continues to increase, with critics saying the NFL's continued use of the referees threatens the game's integrity.
Even Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints' quarterback, was critical. Brees posted on his Twitter account: "I love this league and love the game of football, but tonight’s debacle hurts me greatly. This is NOT the league we’re supposed to represent."
-- So now the question: Do you think the NFL's integrity is hurt by using replacement refs? Do you feel such calls could happen in the Super Bowl? Share your thoughts in the comments below.