Seahawks-Lions ‘MNF’ controversy: Who knew you can’t bat the ball in the end zone?

Officials confer

Officials confer abefore getting the call wrong after the ball was batted out of the end zone by Seattle’s K.J. Wright during a game against Detroit on Monday night.

(Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images)

At this point, pretty much everyone knows that Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright should have been flagged for illegally batting the ball out of the end zone during the final two minutes of the Seahawks’ 13-10 victory over Detroit on “Monday Night Football.”

“You can’t hit it backwards, and you can’t intentionally, I guess, knock it out,” Wright said after being informed of the rule in the locker room. “But at the time, I wasn’t thinking that. I was just trying to not mess up the game. So I know now.”

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Until well after that play, though, many of us were probably unaware of the rule that states the ball can’t be intentionally batted in either end zone.


At the time it seemed like Wright was making a heads-up play after teammate Kam Chancellor knocked the ball out of Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson’s hands near the goal line, preventing what would have been a go-ahead touchdown for the Lions.

A touchback was called, giving the Seahawks the ball on their own 20. But NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said after the game that a penalty should have been called that would have given the Lions the ball inside the Seahawks’ 1.

“K.J. Wright batted the football. That’s a foul for illegal bat,” Blandino said on the NFL Network. “The back judge was on the play and in his judgment he didn’t feel it was an overt act so he didn’t throw the flag. In looking at the replays it looked like a bat so the enforcement would be basically we would go back to the spot of the fumble and Detroit would keep the football.’’

Seattle Coach Pete Carroll said about the missed call: “Now that you look at it we are fortunate .… It’s unfortunate the officials didn’t know how to do it, for their sake. It’s just the way it goes sometimes that plays happen and calls get made and we live with it and do the best we can.”


The Lions and their fans have to live with it as well. After all, the call couldn’t have been reviewed at the time, anyway, and the result of the game will stand as well.

“What can you do?” said Detroit Coach Jim Calwell, whose team dropped to 0-4. “You’re not going to cry about it that’s for sure.” 

Well, at least we all know the rule now. 

“I’ve got to just catch the ball next time instead of illegally batting it,” Wright said.


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