The Seattle Seahawks lost a cornerback and a touchdown to penalties on the same play Sunday. At first glance, both calls were highly debatable.
Referee John Parry ejected Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane for what Perry said was “throwing a punch” during a 64-yard interception return by Nazair Jones. Replays showed Lane and Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams tangled up during the return, with Adams grabbing Lane’s face mask and Lane driving his forearm into Adams’ chest, but there was no evidence that Lane threw a punch.
Parry, meanwhile, called back Jones’ return, which originally went for a touchdown, because of an illegal block in the back by Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril. Again, replays showed Avril lightly pushing Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as he chased Jones. Typically, however, you see more force involved when such penalties are called. Instead of a touchdown, the Seahawks wound up with the ball at the 50. They went three-and-out and punted.
The NFL clearly considers fighting, specifically punching, a point of emphasis. Its rule book allows for ejection after a single “flagrant” punch, and referee Ed Hochuli ejected two players during Week 3 of the preseason in a sign that the league is showing less tolerance for this kind of behavior.
Even with that focus, however, Lane didn’t appear to punch anyone. Avril’s illegal block? We’ve seen much worse go uncalled. Clearly, Parry entered the game hoping to set an early tone with two aggressive and familiar opponents. The early analysis is that it cost the Seahawks a touchdown.
While we’re on officiating in this game, it would be difficult to ignore a non-call that might have cost the Seahawks another touchdown.
On third down from the Packers’ three-yard line, quarterback Russell Wilson lofted a pass into the end zone toward tight end Jimmy Graham. With his back to the Lambeau Field stands, Graham tried to pull in the pass. With Packers safety Kentrell Brice and cornerback Davon House pulling his arms forcefully, Graham was unable to make the catch as it fell incomplete.
NFL pass interference is defined as an instance “when any act by a player more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage significantly hinders an eligible player’s opportunity to catch the ball.” I think most anyone who watched the call would agree the play matched the definition.
It’s fair to suggest that instead of kicking a 21-yard field goal, as they wound up doing, the Seahawks should have had a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line.