Seattle Seahawks

NFL admits it erred on final fumble play in end zone

Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright reaches for Calvin Johnson’s fumble before the ball went out of the back of the end zone. Some think that an illegal batting penalty should have been called.
Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright reaches for Calvin Johnson’s fumble before the ball went out of the back of the end zone. Some think that an illegal batting penalty should have been called. Staff photographer

What is it with the north end zone of CenturyLink Field, Monday Night Football and confused officials?

The NFL admitted late Monday following a Seattle 13-10 victory over Detroit that Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor preserved by forcing a goal-line fumble for a touchback that the game officials erred in not penalizing the Seahawks’ K.J. Wright for batting the fumble out of the back of the end zone.

“You can’t bat the ball in any direction in the end zone, in either end zone. K.J. Wright batted the football. That’s a foul for illegal bat,” said Dean Blandino, the league’s vice president of officiating, according to a league release after the officials left the stadium. 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. ... It’s not reviewable in replay. That’s specific in the replay rule.”

Blandino told the NFL Network he spoke to the referee, Tony Corrente, and Corrente told him he didn’t see that part of the play because it was not in his area of responsibility. The back judge told Blandino he didn’t think Wright’s bat was intentional.

Had it been called and enforced properly, the foul on Wright for illegal batting would have given the ball back to the Lions inside the 1-yard line with 1:45 left.

“Now that you look it at, we’re fortunate in that one,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.

“It was a very unique situation. K.J. was in total control of the ball…and he went ahead and knocked it out of bounds… Had he been just trying to recover it and knocked it out, it wouldn’t have been a question.

“He was trying to knock it out. He did that. It’s unfortunate that the officials didn’t know how to do it, for their sake.

“That’s the way it goes sometimes. Plays happen and calls get made…”

Johnson’s reaction to his first lost fumble in 61 career catches inside the red zone: “At the end of the day, you got to hold onto the ball. Enough said after that.”

LYNCH RUNS WELL PREGAME

Potentially the most important development for the Seahawks Monday ahead came nearly two hours before kickoff.

Marshawn Lynch ran freely and without any apparent pain or impediment on his injured hamstring that kept him out of Monday’s game. It was just the second one he’d missed in six Seahawks seasons, and first since October 2011.

Lynch ran among teammates also in shorts and sweatsuits well before normal pregame warmups. He did it in straight lines, and also looked fluid moving leg crossovers.

It all bodes well for his recovery, perhaps in time for Sunday’s game at undefeated Cincinnati.

“We’re hoping, by using patience here, that he’ll be ready to go next week,” Carroll said.

Then, as only Lynch can, he spent the first half watching the game in a suite at press-box level.

By the third quarter, he was back on the sidelines checking on teammate and good friend Fred Jackson. Lions 305-pound defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker fell on the 34-year-old Jackson’s right ankle. After teammate Richard Sherman and an assistant helped Jackson off the field he walked into the locker room for further examination.

GOLDEN’S RETURN

Golden Tate didn’t catch a Hail Mary, Fail Mary or anything like that in his Monday Night Football return to CenturyLink Field.

What he did do was catch three passes for 29 yards. His first touch of the game was a reverse toss he ran for six yards.

“It was great to see those guys (during) pregame,” Tate said. “I had a chance to get dinner with Jermaine (Kearse). Traded jerseys with him. It was good to be back.”

His former teammate, Richard Sherman, lined up against Tate 13 times. Tate was never targeted with Sherman covering him.

“It was fun. We had some fun plays,” Sherman said. “It’s always competitive. We understand each other and our strengths and weaknesses and it was a good time.”

HAUSCHKA’S MENTAL GAME

Steven Hauschka is one of two kickers in the NFL who have made at least eight field goals without a miss and have yet to miss an extra point, despite the new rules on the point-after attempt.

While some NFL kickers face the hot seat, Hauschka is in top form — and proving it again Monday by converting field goals from 51 and 52 yards. He attributed that afterward to his improved mental approach.

And golf.

“I watch a lot of golf and play a lot,” Hauschka said. “This past season in the PGA was really cool watching Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, and I thought both of them were just phenomenal mentally. I think that’s what separates guys. I’ve been working a lot on the mental side of the game and it’s been paying off.”

He said he sticks to a routine of positive self-talk and breathing.

“Not something most of my teammates would care about,” Hauschka said. “But my job is a little different.”

EXTRA POINTS

Michael Bennett went down on two knees late in the fourth quarter but returned after three plays. “I hurt my leg, but I got three kids.” Bennett said. “My kids go to private school. I spend about $3,600 a month just to send them to private school. You know? And my kids are the only black kids at their school.” The Seahawks were so concerned, Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman, Cliff Avril, Frank Clark, Jordan Hill and Carroll all rushed to his side along with the team doctor. … Nickel DB Marcus Burley left during the first half with a broken thumb. … WR Ricardo Lockette left in the first half with shortness of breath.

Staff writer TJ Cotterill contributed to this report.

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