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Vic Ketchman

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Vic Ketchman has covered the NFL through 42 seasons, including 23 years covering the Steelers and 16 years covering the Jaguars.

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Most controversial play since Immaculate Reception

Posted Sep 26, 2012

Pete from Saint Paul, MN

As a Vikings fan who has enough class to acknowledge that the Packers were screwed, I want to know how many Packers fans would be saying, “Couldn't have happened to a better team,” if this call had gone against the Vikings?

I see your point.

Jason from Rochester, NY

I read the statement the NFL released in regards to the “catch” and the official ruling. I think that statement has done more in my mind to damage the reputation of the NFL than the replacements themselves. Here the league had a chance to at least say the replacements made a mistake. Instead, you get a letter essentially agreeing the call was correct, but the replacements missed the offensive pass interference. Completely unacceptable excuse.

As soon as I saw the replay, I knew the call would stand. Why? Because the replays didn’t show enough of the ball. I could logically determine that M.D. Jennings had the ball, but I couldn’t see enough of the ball to definitively make that statement. That’s why the replay-review ruling didn’t take very long. They looked at what they had and saw there was nothing that could overturn the call. So the NFL was in a tough spot on Tuesday when it went to work on the replays and trying to craft an official position on the play. I would’ve preferred a less official statement. I would’ve preferred a statement to the effect that replay review didn’t offer a good enough view of the play to reverse the call, and that’s why it was so important to get the call on the field right, which wasn’t accomplished. Personally, I felt it was obvious at first look that Jennings had the ball. Is there any chance we’ve gotten to the point that we are relying on replay too much?

Harry from Phoenix, AZ

I have a different take on the reception. I think the refs couldn't reverse the decision, seeing that it was in Seattle and they wouldn't have made it out of the stadium. They took the easy way out, not the correct way out.

I don’t agree with that theory at all. I don’t think our sports culture has declined to the point of mass violence. I was in Cleveland for “Bottlegate.” I was down on the field when those bottles came flying out of the stands, and I’ll never forget the sound they made as they hit the ground. That was as charged and as threatening a crowd situation as I have ever experienced, and the officials working that game made it out of Cleveland alive and uninjured.

David from Campbellsville, KY

Vic, I'm seeing this loss in different vision this morning, as in how the Saints must be feeling coming off a third loss and heading to Green Bay knowing we're angry. I'm actually believing this is the turning point our offense needed to get their edge back. Your thoughts?

Don’t count on anger, count on execution. Mike McCarthy and his staff have a demanding task ahead of them this week. In a short week of preparation, they have to turn their players’ attention away from Monday night, which is all anybody is talking about, and toward Sunday’s game against the Saints. Beginning with today, the Packers have to dedicate themselves completely to the execution of their craft. That’s what it’ll take to beat the Saints. Just being angry won’t do it. Anger gives us a false feeling of strength. Preparation is the true ingredient of success.

Gary from Somerville, NJ

Vic, somewhere lost in all of the controversy is the fact that the Packers defense has been playing outstanding. The offense will get into its groove and this defense will continue to improve. What are your thoughts?

I completely agree, and I think the combination of the two needs to happen this week.

Hugh from London, UK

Last year, the offense was almost unstoppable. Joe Philbin leaves. Now we are struggling. Coincidence?

The problems the offense is encountering didn’t surface against the 49ers. We saw signs of them beginning with the loss in Kansas City last year. The Packers are 3-4 in their last seven games. If you’re trying to lay blame on coaching staff changes on the offensive side of the ball, I think you’re being unfair.

Norm from Orange Park, FL

I think you have been present to witness two of the most controversial plays in NFL history, one in Pittsburgh and the one on Monday night.

Replay review was used for one and wasn’t available to be used for the other, but Monday’s play and the Immaculate Reception have one thing in common: Replay review was meaningless for both. Forty years later, replay of the Immaculate Reception still can’t confirm whether it was Frenchy Fuqua or Jack Tatum who deflected the ball to Franco Harris. It makes me wonder why we even use replay review if it can’t render a verdict on plays such as these. Aren’t these the plays for which the creation of the system is intended to be used? These weren’t low-profile games. One was a playoff game and the other was a Monday night game, national telecasts with a horde of cameras positioned throughout the stadium, and TV couldn’t produce one angle to help make the call. The thing I don’t like about replay review is that we’ve come to rely on it to correct mistakes, and that’s created an attitude among fans that we no longer have to live with mistakes. The bottom line is mistakes still happen and we still have to live with them.

Mario from Dortmund, Germany

What would've happened if the Packers had not come back for the ridiculous extra point? Pete Carroll made a reference to a Buffalo game where something like that happened, but he wasn't very clear about it. Do you think they should've stayed inside as a protest?

The Packers would’ve been fined significantly. The NFL is adamant about games being played to their conclusion. Had this been overtime, there would’ve been no kick. In regulation, there has to be a conversion attempt. Carroll is referring to a Buffalo game in which Wade Phillips ordered his team off the field. The conversion was then run in for two points against a phantom defense, and that caused a major shift in the point-spread consequences, which is exactly what the league wants to avoid. A coach has to be above such childish displays. He has to be dedicated to the integrity of the game and the league’s pursuit of it. Mike McCarthy is.

Josh from Indianapolis, IN

It's been over 24 hours now and I don't even want the ending overturned. We got screwed. Now the Packers can use it as motivation for the rest of the season and, on Feb. 3, the Packers can say they beat the AFC champs and the NFL.

Monday night’s play has been committed to legend. It is now forever part of football lore. Our children will tell their children about it. It’s much, much bigger than one game, one day, one week or however many sleepless nights it’s caused. The fallout from that play is huge. For starters, a rivalry was born on Monday night. The Packers and Seahawks instantly became the league’s hot new rivalry. That play will do for those teams what the Immaculate Reception did for the Steelers-Raiders rivalry of the 1970s. Beyond that, people will refer to the play for a very long time. It could even effect change. When a game and a single play embody that much importance and promise to be that prominent historically, you don’t want to be on the side of wrong. You want history to record you as being on the side of truth and virtue. I encourage Packers fans to take the long view of Monday’s game.

John from Grayslake, IL

I don't know why everybody is saying Jennings should have batted the ball down.

I covered a Texans-Jaguars game in 2010 when the Texans defensive back could’ve easily caught the ball, but he was either taught to bat it down or instinctively did so, and in this case he batted the ball directly into the hands of Jaguars wide receiver Mike Thomas, who caught the ball and casually took one step across the goal line. Game over! M.D. Jennings did the right thing; he caught the ball. You can’t expect players to play the game and officiate the game, too.

Nancy from Snohomish, WA

Not everyone in western Washington slept well on Monday night.

Guilty conscience?

Red from Murrieta, CA

What do you think will live in infamy longer, the fourth-and-26 game against the Eagles, or the game-ending fiasco against the Seahawks?

Compared to Monday’s game, the fourth-and-26 game is a mere ripple in a raging storm at sea. The fourth-and-26 game is of local lore. Monday’s game was a subject on last night’s national news. It was the No. 1 news subject in America on Tuesday, during a presidential election campaign. Monday’s game is so big that it has transcended the world of sports and has moved into the world of politics. Politicians on all levels are using Monday’s game to ally themselves with football fans, which is to say voters, who are outraged. It’s the most controversial play I’ve covered since the Immaculate Reception.

Randy from Burlington, IA

I know coach took responsibility for the game plan, but why didn’t he try running in the first half? They were teeing off on our line knowing every down we were passing. That was ugly.

Game plans are difficult to change on the fly. Obviously, the plan was changed at halftime. Had Jennings been ruled to have intercepted that pass, Mike McCarthy would be celebrated for the changes he and his offensive staff made at halftime. Just win, baby. It always works.

Victor from Middletown, CT

At the end of Monday night's game, and during the media coverage of the fiasco, I saw one thing that not enough people have commented on: Mike McCarthy's superhuman self-restraint. Instead of lashing out or cursing or manhandling referees, Coach McCarthy has managed to deal with the situation in a calm and collected manner.

What’s most impressive about what you’re saying is that Coach McCarthy’s natural personality doesn’t lend itself to such display of calm following such a hurtful result. Coach McCarthy is ultra-competitive and having to accept the manner in which that game ended was a pain he couldn’t hide in his voice. When he came into the postgame interview room on Monday, his voice gave his emotions away. Yet, he collected himself and finished without incident. It put a smile on my face. I love covering wins. This was the kind of win I never forget.

Adam from Oshkosh, WI

It’s been almost 24 hours since one of the worst calls football fans have ever witnessed was made. I do not feel better in any way about what occurred.

Give it another 24 hours and call me in the morning. You’ll make it.

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