In the frustrated fan’s eternal search for the perfect scapegoat after a painful loss, no target feels quite as satisfying as the hapless referee.
While I’m in no position to take the high road —
retire stripes— John Skellington Fraley (@johndavidfraley) October 26, 2020
— a little separation between game day and the Seahawks’ many, many, many, oh so very many missteps Sunday night allows for a clearer thought process.
The referees made some bad snap decisions that impacted the game, more often to Seattle’s disadvantage. But like big boys, the Seahawks lost this game all on their own, several times over.
Should we run through the three most egregious refereeing decisions into account, one by one? I guess.
A) Bobby Wagner’s personal foul
Setting the stage, Seattle’s up 10 points with 7:45 left in the third quarter. The defense has just forced an incomplete pass on third down. Arizona will punt, except a late flag comes in after Wagner pushes intended receiver Dan Arnold to the ground while the ball is still in the air.
That's textbook from Bobby Wagner. Hit the tight end in the back area with shoulder/arms. Head up, good aiming point, didn't know if the ball was caught. Bullshit call from the officials— Matty F. Brown (@mattyfbrown) October 26, 2020
First down, Cardinals. The drive ends in a touchdown. Is it fair to say the officials gifted the hosts a score? In part, sure. Three things about that possession, though. On first down, Bryan Mone hugs Kyler Murray in the end zone but lets him go. Then the defense doesn’t show up — one six of the next eight plays, the Cardinals gain at least seven yards. They convert a 1st and 20 and only end up facing third down once more in the quarter.
Arizona scored on every subsequent drive of the game, excepting the missed field goal in overtime. Turn that one over in your brain.
And with the Seattle offense sputtering its way to only seven points after halftime, there’s no reason to believe the Seahawks would have done anything significant with their ensuing possession anyway. Pretty good chance they punt it back, or, heavens, Wilson tosses it to the wrong color jersey.
The call hurt, but it didn’t lead directly to a loss.
B) Budda Baker takes out Travis Homer
Be nice to get ONE of these calls in our favor pic.twitter.com/AYXFKr2XBF— John Skellington Fraley (@johndavidfraley) October 26, 2020
Baker should have been at the very least penalized, and perhaps ejected, for this hit. As it was, only Homer left the game. The Seahawks got no points off the drive. (Because of another Wilson pick!)
The broadcast crew excoriated the officials for this no-call, to no avail. Seattle sorely missed Homer in pass pro late when Deejay Dallas wasn’t ready for the moment. He may be later. Terrible timing to lose your most reliable third-down back when you’re already down Chris Carson. The Cardinals should’ve paid a corresponding price with their star safety, and didn’t.
C) The weird Tyler Lockett touchdown that almost wasn’t
For sheer incompetence, the TD-incomplete pass-challenge-overturn sequence surrounding Lockett’s third score was especially galling. Galling enough for non-fans to chime in with brutal criticism, even.
What kind of dumbass call is that to deliberately NOT call it a TD after a discussion?— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) October 26, 2020
Call it a TD and they look at it automatically, jackasses!
Guys it's a TD. pic.twitter.com/OHGAc6fUDK— John Skellington Fraley (@johndavidfraley) October 26, 2020
That was deemed a touchdown in real time, then changed to an incomplete pass, forcing Pete Carroll to challenge, when of course the more logical course of action is to keep the original call, which activates an official review, because it’s a scoring play. The right decision was made in the end, but it’s not like the crew helped themselves with a curious process bordering on incompetence.
Enough evidence is out there that the Seahawks would’ve won with a different refereeing crew, and that two lousy calls impacted the game more than you’d ever like to see. But two of Seattle’s dumb mistakes that were rightfully flagged far overshadow any preceding subjective instances.
A) Benson Mayowa hurdles the line on the FG try
Dying at Bobby Wagner immediately knowing the flag is coming out pic.twitter.com/LJX109YD5c— infinite speed (@speedydave2) October 26, 2020
Spectacular lack of awareness from a vet who should know better than to compound his offside mistake with a gift first down.
If Mayowa lives with the offside blunder and doesn’t compound it, and the next Seahawks drive proceeds as it did, the Cardinals get the ball back at their own 20 needing a touchdown instead of a field goal, with 40 seconds and no timeouts. In that scenario you have to like Seattle’s chances, bad defensive execution down the stretch and all.
B) David Moore grabbing jersey on the Seahawks’ next-to-last offensive play in overtime.
Replays show Moore has a lot of jersey in his hand while DK Metcalf sprints to the end zone for the game-winner that won no game. Moore didn’t need to. Metcalf was probably going to get the first down anyway, and at that point only a turnover or blocked kick would lead to a loss. It was a mental mistake, one among many, on par with Mayowa’s silly error and Wilson’s picks.
The conclusion I’m driving at would like to manifest itself now. Besides the calls, which were horrendous, the Seahawks had multiple off-ramps they could’ve taken to avoid losing. Decent defense on either of Arizona’s final two regulation drives, earning one first down after the two-minute warning, or only throwing two interceptions instead of three — each of those non-officiating factors would’ve swung the W into Seattle’s column, or maybe even transformed the L into a T. (Which we would take, all things considered.)
Even having Chris Carson in the fourth quarter is another believable reason the Seahawks lost, and I’m a staunch Running Backs Don’t Matter disciple.
Look, there’s no sense in denying Alaric is right, because he is right:
Still mad about that Bobby penalty— nflscrapAlaRic (@alaric10000) October 26, 2020
And honestly I’m still mad too, the next morning, and could easily have a bowl of leftover anger for breakfast tomorrow. But with a half-dozen chances to win the game outright after that terrible, terrible call, the Seahawks brought this loss upon their own selves, and if any goat should be scaped, it’s theirs.