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How an overturned Golden Tate touchdown changed the Seahawks’ Week 17 rooting interests

Atlanta Falcons v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

When Week 17 rolls around, the Seattle Seahawks will be rooting for the Carolina Panthers to defeat the Atlanta Falcons, paving the way for Seattle to make the playoffs by either tying or winning against the Arizona Cardinals. Of course, the Seahawks would’ve already clinched a playoff spot had they beaten the Falcons at home on Monday night, but I digress.

Atlanta is a team that has lived on the edge all season, with an absurd six of their nine wins decided by no more than six points. No win for them was closer than their week 3 game at the Detroit Lions. Clinging to a 30-26 lead, former Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate appeared to score the game-winning touchdown with just eight seconds remaining.

...Except it wasn’t.

The official review ruled that Brian Poole had made contact with Tate, and that the ball did not cross the plane of the goal line when his left knee touched down. Because NFL rules require that the game restart with a running clock, a ten-second runoff was mandated, ending the game and giving the Lions a new way to lose.

Had the call not been reversed (and assuming Atlanta didn’t find an absurd way to win the game with seconds left), the Falcons, not the Lions, would be mathematically out of the playoffs right now, and Detroit would hold the final wild card spot. Instead of cheering for the Panthers, the Seahawks would need the Green Bay Packers, 7-8 and without Aaron Rodgers, to get the W in Detroit. I have a feeling it’s more likely that Carolina wins on Sunday than Green Bay.

While we’re on the topic of Golden Tate, on the penultimate possession of the Lions’ eventual season-ending loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Tate almost made a miraculous catch on 3rd and 28, which would’ve put Detroit in Cincinnati territory. Instead, they punted and gave up the game-clinching touchdown. Seattle needed Detroit to lose last weekend, and this play was instrumental in assuring that they got the outcome they desired.

Sometimes the difference between being in the playoffs and staying home for January are moments like these. Tate’s overturned TD hurt the Lions in the long-term, but it’s also inadvertently helped the Seahawks as we approach the final week of the 2017 NFL regular season.