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The Seattle Seahawks may have saved their season with a huge play by their All-Pro safety Kam Chancellor, but the play was not without controversy as the Detroit Lions should have been given a second chance.
The key play came with less than two minutes remaining and the Lions down 13-10. It appeared that Calvin Johnson was going to score and give the Lions the lead as he was racing towards the end zone. That’s when Chancellor came in from behind and punched the ball loose inches before the goal line.
It is one of the great defensive plays you will see all season and seemingly turned the game from a probably loss into a sure win.
Replays showed that it was close, but that the ball was clearly out before breaking the plane of the goal line. It was indeed a game-saving fumble.
After the ball is fumbled, K.J. Wright of the Seahawks bats the ball forward and out of the end zone. This is a seemingly smart play to ensure the touchback for Seattle if it weren’t also illegal.
Following the game, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, Dean Blandino, confirmed that a foul should have been called on Wright and the penalty would have given the ball back to the Lions half-the-distance to the goal from the spot of the fumble. In other words, the Lions would have had first-and-goal at the half-yard line with about 90 seconds to play.
“You can’t bat the ball in any direction in the end zone,” Blandino said on the NFL Network. “K.J. Wright batted the football, that is a foul for an illegal bat. The back judge was on the play. In his judgment, he didn’t feel it was an overt act, so he didn’t throw the flag. In looking at the replay, it did look like a bat.”
Blandino went on to explain that since the play is a judgement call it cannot be reviewed even though it was in the final two minutes of the game.
At the end of the day, throwing the flag would have been the right call by the letter of the law, but it would have felt like giving the Lions a second life on a technicality. The team that came up with the huge play when it mattered is the team that won the game.
It was a huge win for the Seahawks who have now battled back from an 0-2 start without Chancellor, who was holding out, to win two straight with their star safety, and even their record at 2-2.
You can see Blandino’s full comments here: