By Brandon Burnett
Cold, Hard Football Facts Wizard of the NFC West (@B_Burnett49er)
As Monday night traversed into Tuesday morning, you might have struggled mightily to find an accurate way to describe Seattle's 14-12 home win over the Packers.
Never has 60 minutes of NFL football been so misinterpreted by the referees, and it seems only fitting that the final, game deciding play was arguably the worst call of the evening.
Nevertheless, the Seahawks move into a tie with the 49ers for second place in the NFC West at 2-1. The Packers, on the other hand, fall to 1-2 and after three weeks, now have more losses in 2012 than all of 2011.
Let's look at five things we learned from tonight's game, beginning with the obvious.
1. Our Worst Fear of Using Replacement Refs in Meaningful Games Has Been Realized
Surely, you've seen the controversial final snap of a chaotic week of NFL football. Here's a link, in case you're a little late to the party.
This weekend was filled with thrilling finishes and officiating blunders, and boy did Week 3 go out with a bang.
A bang that will be heard for quite some time.
On fourth down in the final seconds of Monday Night Football, with all the world watching, Russell Wilson heaved a 24-yard pass that looked to be intercepted by M.D. Jennings of the Packers in the end zone.
Seahawks' WR Golden Tate, who committed an engregrious offensive pass interference foul that went unnoticed, managed to convince one official he possessed the ball, not Jennings. Another ref ruled an interception, but touchdown was the final call on the field. The ball, however, was clearly pressed against Jennings' chest, seemingly preventing a simultaneous catch from entering the picture.
Seahawks win, the NFL loses.
Before Monday night, the use of replacement referees had not directly affected the outcome of the game. Now, it has. One picture says 1,000 words: two refs in the end zone, two different calls on the last play of the game.
2. Seattle's Defense Terrorized Aaron Rodgers in Relentless Fashion
Somebody get Chris Clemons a game ball.
The Seahawks' defensive end posted four sacks on the night while completely destroying the Packers offensive line. In all, Seattle brought down Rodgers eight different times and recorded 12 QB hits.
Rookie OLB Bruce Irvin and DT Brandon Mebane added two sacks apiece.
No team has given up less points than Seattle after three games, averaging just 13 points against per game in 2012. The D came into this game ranking third in Bendability with 20.33 yards per point allowed, but did even better on Monday night with an impressive 22.33 yards per point allowed.
Look out San Francisco, you're not the only one in the NFC West with a top-tier defense.
3. The Seahawks Have to Stop Shooting Themselves in the Foot
Seattle had as many penalties (14) as first downs Monday night, going for 108 yards in all. Not every penalty was deserved, but there were more than enough issues to cause concern.
Whether it was false starts, holding calls or delay of game penalties, Seattle's offense looked unprepared and undisciplined—quite the opposite of how the defense performed.
The Seahawks are 2-1, and the defense deserves a big load of the credit. That said, 14 penalty calls on your home turf is not a good sign.
4. The Packers Have Issues To Sort Out on Offense
Through three weeks, Rodgers has tossed just three TD's, and two of them were late in the fourth quarters of games.
Worse yet, the reigning NFL MVP has been sacked 16 times. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga spent much of the game acting as a human turnstile, and Rodgers once again had no answers for the coverage he was seeing. On the night, he finished 26 of 39 for 223 yards and an 81.5 passer rating.
In his defense, the defensive units Green Bay has faced thus far are not the type to give up any easy yardage. The Packers return home for a Week 4 matchup against a team that will, though, in the 0-3 New Orleans Saints.
If Rodgers and the offense are ever going to get rolling, that's as good an opportunity as any.
5. Looking Ahead to Week 4
San Francisco looks to rebound after a shocking loss to the Vikings in Minneapolis when they arrive for a Sunday meeting with the Jets at the Meadowlands. Mark Sanchez has followed up a strong performance in the season opener with a couple of stinkers, and the 49ers would love to extend that trend another week.
Arizona sits atop the NFC West at 3-0, and it's unlikely that'll change this week when they host the 1-2 Miami Dolphins at University of Phoenix Stadium. Then again, this is the NFL. An NFL with replacement refs, no less.
Seattle heads to St. Louis for a divisional battle with the Rams at 1 p.m. EST Sunday. With a win, the Rams can pull even with the Seahawks at 2-2 on the year. For as bad as the Rams' O-line was on Sunday they can't be thrilled to see how bad Seattle's defense battered Rodgers and the Pack.