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Punch, bat, refs help Seahawks edge winless Lions

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If you turned off the “Monday Night Football” game right after the final play in the Seattle Seahawks’ 13-10 victory over the Detroit Lions, you probably had no idea that the officials blew a critical call that might have cost the Lions the game.

Then again, neither did the players in the middle of the controversial play or Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.

After Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor knocked the ball away from Lions receiver Calvin Johnson inside the 1-yard line late in the game, the ball rolled toward the back of the end zone. As it bounced, Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright batted the ball out of the back of the end zone for a touchback, and the Seahawks were given possession at their own 20-yard line, leading by three points.

No call was made on the play, and ESPN broadcasters Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden made no reference to the potential issue with the ruling.

It was not until after the game that ESPN reported the possible officiating mistake.

NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino told NFL Network late Monday that a penalty should have been called on Wright for intentionally batting the ball. It would have given the Lions the ball inside the 1-yard line with a first down.

“We’re not going to cry about it,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said after the 13-10 loss that made Detroit the only winless team in the NFL after four weeks.

Blandino also said it was a subjective call, relying on the opinion of the official to determine whether the ball was intentionally batted.

“The rule itself, a bat is an intentional act, so there is subjectivity to it,” Blandino said on NFL Network. “The official has to see it and then he has to rule whether it was intentional. It could be a muff, it could just hit the player and bounce out of bounds, so he has to make all of those decisions in that split second that he has on the field and he felt it wasn’t an intentional, overt act, and that’s why he didn’t throw the flag, so it certainly is subjective.”

Asked if the Seahawks should have been penalized, Blandino said, “Yeah, looking at the replay, it looks like a bat. It looks like he takes his right hand and bats it intentionally. It’s a foul. We have to make that call.”

Because it was a judgment call – like pass interference – it could not be reviewed on replay.

Blandino noted that the Competition Committee might look at making batting the ball illegally a reviewable play in the future.

Wright admitted to batting the ball, although he thought he was making a good play.

“Yeah, you can’t hit it backwards, and you can’t intentionally I guess knock it out,” Wright said after the game, via The Seattle Times. “But at the time I wasn’t thinking that, I was just trying to not mess up the game. So I know now.”

During a radio interview on Tuesday, Carroll also admitted he was unaware of the rule.

“I would have done the exact same thing. I would have done the exact same thing,” Carroll said on 710 ESPN. “I didn’t know that rule either. I’ve never even seen it come up and I’ve been coaching for — I don’t even know how many years it is and how many games it could possibly be — I don’t know how anybody would have known that one. If they did, they did.”


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