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Packers fall 14-12 to Seahawks on controversial game-ending TD

Packers fall 14-12 to Seahawks on controversial game-ending TD
The chaotic final play of the Seahawks' victory over the Packers was ruled a touchdown. ((Otto Greule Jr/Getty photo))

SEATTLE — It will be a play, and a night, that will not be soon forgotten.

As time expired, replacement side judge Lance Easley raised his hands slowly above his head in the touchdown signal, making Golden Tate's 24-yard reception the decisive play in the Seahawks' 14-12 victory over the Packers Monday night at CenturyLink Field.

The ruling on the field of touchdown then was confirmed upstairs by replay official Howard Slavin, a fulltime National Football League employee.

In the press box, Packers President Mark Murphy quietly watched the television replays alongside general manager Ted Thompson. After Slavin's ruling confirmed the call by Easley, Murphy approached Mike Kensil, the NFL observer who was seated just a few seats down from him. Murphy asked about the replay process, and Kensil reminded him that Slavin was not a replacement.

Murphy declined comment.

Tim Connolly, the Packers' vice president of sales and marketing, said, "That was the most horse(bleep) thing I've ever seen," as he put his coat on and prepared to leave.

The Packers slipped to 1-2, and Seattle improved to 2-1.

On fourth and 10 with 8 seconds showing, Tate and wide receiver Charly Martin ran to the left corner. Matched against them were five Packers defensive backs: Charles Woodson, Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Jarrett Bush and M.D. Jennings.

The ball appeared to be caught by Jennings at the apex of his jump. Tate latched on to the ball as the pile crashed to the turf.

"They called it a simultaneous catch," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "Tie goes to the runner. It gave us an extraordinary win."

The victory improved Seattle's NFL-best record on Monday night to 18-8. It was the Packers' fifth straight defeat in Monday night road games, all quarterbacked by Aaron Rodgers.

This is the Packers' first 1-2 start since 2006, coach Mike McCarthy's first season. The Packers have started 1-2 eight times in the last 20 years, but many more times than not they've rebounded.

In those eight seasons, the Packers finished with winning records six times; their best was 10-6 in both 2003 and '04. They made the playoffs in four of those eight seasons and had a losing season just once.

The final play was one of about a dozen that involved controversial calls by the scab crew led by referee Wayne Elliott. It ended the third week without the NFL's regular officials, who are involved in a labor dispute with management.

At 1-2, the Packers are one game behind the Bears and Vikings in the NFC North and two games behind Atlanta and Arizona, the only 3-0 squads in the NFC.

The story of the first half was the Packers' complete inability to handle the pass rush and the imbalance of their offense.

McCarthy called a run by Cedric Benson on the third play. When defensive end Red Bryant stuffed Jermichael Finley and tackled Benson for no gain, McCarthy ran Benson just once more in the first half.

In all, the Packers had three running plays and 27 pass plays in the first half.

"Obviously, that's probably not ideal," Thompson said. "But you do what you can do."

Partially as a result, the Packers' passing game fell apart. Rodgers was sacked eight times, including four by defensive end Chris Clemons and two by rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin.

By subjective judgment, three of the sacks were charged to tackle Bryan Bulaga, three to Rodgers, one to fullback John Kuhn and one to left tackle Marshall Newhouse.

"It's a combination of things," Thompson said. "They're a really good defense. Because of the crowd, it's difficult for our guys to hear. We got beat on a few things.

"Maybe we didn't get open when we were supposed to get open. Maybe we held the ball. There has to be a lot of things to have eight sacks."

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