M.D. Jennings' interception

We didn’t care to post this at the time, but people have been wondering where it was. So, we’ve gone back and looked at the Green Bay Packers atrocious loss to the Seattle Seahawks. For the masochists in Packers Nation, here it is.

13:10, 1st quarter — The Seahawks go three and out to start the game like every Packers opponent this season except for Indianapolis. On 3rd-and-2, the Packers have their psycho package on the field and send Clay Matthews and D.J. Smith on stunts around both ends. Russell Wilson flees the pocket and throws the ball away.

10:40, 1st quarter — Aaron Rodgers scrambles on 1st down for 17 yards. The Packers are instantly in Seattle territory, at the 49, and look to be off to a good start. However, as has been an early theme this season, midfield is where Packers drives go to die. Four plays later the Packers have to punt.

The Packers try a screen to Cedric Benson on 1st down from the Seattle 49. Benson is in front of the blockers instead of behind them and is easily tackled for no gain. On 2nd-and-10, Benson runs left and is lucky to get back to the line of scrimmage. On 3rd-and-10, the Seahawks are pressing the outside receivers and playing off the slots, like the Chicago Bears usually do against the Packers. The Seahawks only rush three, but the Packers triple team the nose, leaving their tackles one-on-one with the Hawks’ best pass rushers.

Bruce Irvin uses a stiff arm to Bryan Bulaga’s throat to get past him on the inside. When Rodgers steps up to avoid Chris Clemons’ rush around the end, Irvin gets an easy sack.

6:00, 1st quarter — Seattle has one of its few good drives of the half, getting to the Green Bay 44 before being forced to punt. On 3rd-and-4, Jerron McMillian dove to knock down a pass in the flat to stop the drive.

13:20, 2nd quarter — Both teams have been trading punts. To start the 2nd quarter, the Packers go three and out.

After a dump to Benson gained 8 yards on 1st down, Rodgers goes to the quick pass to Greg Jennings, as once again the Seahawks are playing off coverage on the slots. Jennings tries to evade safety Kam Chancellor instead of just getting the 1st down and is tackled one foot short of it.

The 3rd-and-a-foot play is another instance where Rodgers seemed to ignore the play call, something he said he’d do less of prior to the Houston game. The play is a play action that is meant to go to D.J. Williams in the flat. He is wide open on the play. Rodgers appears to look for the deep shot down the sideline instead, seeing that covered he holds the ball. But he can’t. Seattle had everyone up on the line of scrimmage to stop the run and they are all coming. Clemons gets another sack.

6:30, 2nd quarter — The Seahawks finally end the scoring drought. After a 4-yard run from Marshawn Lynch at the Seattle 40, D.J. Smith gets knocked to the ground well after the play. The referees ignore this, but hit Smith with a 15-yard penalty for retaliating. This moves the ball to the Green Bay 41.

The Packers put eight in the box, bringing Morgan Burnett down and rotating Charles Woodson into the single deep. I don’t know why the Packers are stacking the line for this one play, and I also don’t know why they wouldn’t bring Woodson down and leave Burnett deep.

Seattle goes play action; the Packers defense looks stunned. Wilson has plenty of time to throw and delivers a good ball to Golden Tate running the deep post against Tramon Williams for a 41-yard TD.

Williams probably shouldn’t ever get beat by the likes of Tate, but he does here. Tate runs an out and up. Williams bites too strongly on the out and gives up the inside to Tate. Woodson pays too much attention to the tight end running the post from the slot and doesn’t have enough depth to help Williams. Woodson is partially exonerated by the fact that the tight end was otherwise uncovered when either Nick Perry or A.J. Hawk should have at least slowed the guy down.

The Packers only have one more possession in the half and they advance the ball to midfield, again, before a Jeff Saturday hold on an ill-fated screen play begins a rather epic retreat. Chris Clemons would get consecutive sacks to force the punt with Marshall Newhouse and Rodgers sharing the blame.

8:10, 3rd quarter — The Packers start the second half by going 70 yards in 13 plays to get on the board with a short Mason Crosby field goal.

The drive features Benson getting seven carries for 34 yards, and by combining that with some short passes, the offense finally looks efficient. On 3rd-and-5 from the Seattle 10, the Seahawks only rushed three. Rodgers has plenty of time, dances around in the pocket a little, and then fires to Donald Driver, who is open in the end zone. The ball deflects off Driver’s hands and he dives to catch it, but is out of bounds.

The Packers end up with 3 points when they should have had 7.

6:05, 3rd quarter — Seattle goes three and out when, on 2nd down, Russell Wilson thinks he can outrun Nick Perry and gets sacked for a colossal 19-yard loss.

1:25, 3rd quarter — The Packers seem to have the Seattle defense figured out, as they go 66 yards in 11 plays and kick another field goal to make it 7-6.

This drive is a little different from the first in that it features a 31-yard pass play to Jermichael Finley where Rodgers ran out of the pocket to his left and fired one to Finley on a deep cross.

Unfortunately, the drive would also end on a 3rd down pass to Finley where Richard Sherman is all over him and knocks the ball away.

8:50, 4th quarter — After another three and out by the Seahawks, the Packers continue their dominance of this half by driving 81 yards in 16 plays, capped by a 1-yard TD run by Benson to take the lead.

The drive starts with two consecutive conversions of 3rd-and-10, including Rodgers beating the blitz with a dart to James Jones for 13 yards between two defenders.

The drive also has a 3rd down converted by penalty when Chancellor DOES make early contact with Finley, his helmet in Finley’s back with the ball clearly still on the way.

Also on this drive, Brandon Browner shows he’s a punk by first going helmet-to-helmet with Greg Jennings in knocking him down, and then by throwing Jennings to the ground and jumping on top of him after he got up. Somehow, this debacle ends up being offsetting penalties. I guess Jennings collected the first penalty in NFL history for getting his ass kicked.

After the replay official somehow marks Jennings not just short of the end zone, but also short of the first down, the replacement refs then try to mark Rodgers short of the first, drawing a challenge by Mike McCarthy that he amazingly wins. Benson would score on the next play to make it 12-7.

Unfortunately, the Packers would go for two, even though there is nearly nine minutes left in the game. Rodgers would try the back shoulder to Jones against the 6-4 Browner, which has no shot. Poor decision by both coach and quarterback. With that much time left, you take the point.

1:50, 4th quarter — On Seattle’s first play of the following drive, the game could have been over. Wilson is chased out of the pocket to his right by Erik Walden. He throws a little behind his tight end who tips the ball to Jerron McMillian, who makes the INT before stepping out of bounds.

The Packers sideline celebrates. It appears to be their ball at the Seattle 26, already up 12-7.

However, one of the most egregious roughing the passer calls you will ever see, and that is really saying something, not only takes away the INT, but gives the Seahawks 15 yards.

I believe the replacement referee just didn’t know the rule book here. It is illegal for a defender to dive at the quarterback’s legs while in the pocket, though even that, the Brady Rule, is rarely called. However, once the quarterback is out of the pocket, they are considered runners and free game. The perfectly legal tackle by Walden was also not close to being a late hit, as the ball hadn’t even left Wilson’s hand when Walden began his dive for Wilson’s legs.

The Packers just got shafted here, but hold on, it would get better.

The Seahawks would drive all the way to the Green Bay 7 before failing on a 4th-and-3.

00:46, 4th quarter — Any chance the Packers had to get a first down and win the game with their offense quickly disappears on 1st down. John Kuhn fails to block Browner coming hard off the edge, and Browner and Kuhn both hit Benson near the goal line. Benson fumbles, and Saturday momentarily appears to save the Packers by recovering the fumble at the 2.

Punting from the back of their end zone, the Packers end up fortunate that the Seahawks only take over from the Green Bay 46.

00:00 — 14-12, Seahawks. The Seahawks cover the 46 yards with two passes. Wilson first hits Sidney Rice for 22 yards between Williams and Woodson. On the next play, Wilson takes a shot for Tate in the end zone. The ball goes off of the hands of Sam Shields. It could have been game over right there, and this game is already reminding me of the Steelers game in 2009, which was lost on the final play — a touchdown pass after the Packers missed multiple opportunities to end the game.

The final “score” came on a now infamous Wilson heave into the end zone where five Packers and two Seahawks awaited it. Well, the five Packers were quickly reduced to four when Tate simply shoved Shields to the ground. I am aware that the refs don’t like to call pass interference on the final play, but in all my years of watching football, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a blatant and impactful case. This simply HAS to be called otherwise no hail mary would ever be completed because the defenders should just tackle all the receivers while the ball is in the air and call it a day.

Regardless, the Packers defenders still on their feet need to knock the ball down. There is no excusable way that the 5-10 Tate should get even one hand on the ball. This play is exactly why you don’t try to catch the ball. Yes, in recent history, batted balls have been caught by the offense, but the chances of that are extremely unlikely. Whereas you are definitely giving the receivers a better chance of catching the ball if you try to catch it yourself.

Yes, I don’t think the simultaneous possession rule actually applies here. The replay clearly shows Tate only has one hand, presumably because you can’t see it, on the ball while his other hand is on the arm of MD Jennings as they both hit the ground. The ball is pinned to Jennings’ chest, and his possession appears to come before Tate puts two hands on the ball after they are on the ground. However, this certainly isn’t a judgement you want going to either replacement refs, regular refs, or instant replay when you are on the road.

You could argue that this is the worst loss in NFL history. Technically, the Packers didn’t even lose because they were beat. They lost because they were tied, tied on the final play. No one would try to say — other than Tate — that he “caught” the ball. This might be the only reception in NFL history where the receiver never even caught the ball. Jennings caught the ball. Tate was just able to get his hands on it enough to convince the refs.

In my life, I have never seen a football game end on a simultaneous catch call. Regardless of who is reffing, this would be a terrible and controversial way to end any game.

It is also rare that you would see a team dominate in the second half, like the Packers did, and still lose the game. With eight minutes left in the game, the Packers had 184 yards in the second half, while Seattle had -1.

A loss like this can get into your psyche regardless of how much you try to forget about it and move on. The Packers already had a lot to overcome with going 15-1 and then losing in their first playoff game. You add this historically bad defeat, and it is easy to think this just isn’t going to be their year.

I believe the Packers will need a string of wins to fully get this loss out of their head. Even then, this loss will remain a factor in their season until they win their division and Seattle doesn’t win theirs. Until that happens, this loss haunts the 2012 Packers.

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