After watching their team complete a brilliant comeback in Seattle, Redskins fans had to hold their breath for one final (unnecessary) play: a Hail Mary pass which should never have happened.
Fortunately for the Redskins, DeAngelo Hall picked the perfect week to return. Seahawks receiver Tanner McEvoy definitely got his hands on the 46-yard pass attempt, but Hall was able to reach in at the last second and swat the ball to the turf.
But the game should have ended one play earlier, when Terrell McClain sacked Russell Wilson with 11 seconds on the clock. The Seahawks had no timeouts remaining. The call on the field ruled Wilson down by contact, and a review agreed, meaning the clock never should have stopped.
But it did.
As Wilson went to the ground, he flung the ball from his hand as if he were attempting a pass, a last-ditch effort to stop the clock. And it worked, sort of. It was enough to trick the clock operator, who erroneously put the game on pause.
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With receivers scattered all over the field, it’s unlikely — had that operator error not occurred — that the Seahawks offense would have been able to reset in time to fire off another play, all in under 11 seconds.
Mike Pereira, former VP of NFL Officiating and current rules analyst for Fox, agrees.
Had Wilson completed the Hail Mary — as he famously did against the Packers in 2012 — the NFL would have had quite the doozy on its hands, Pereira said on “Last Call,” which he hosts with Dean Blandino (another former VP of NFL Officiating).
“Should Seattle have had a chance to throw the Hail Mary and possibly win the game? I don’t think so, because you had a clock error,” Pereira said. “You had 12 seconds when Russell Wilson went down on a knee. A whistle was blown, ending the play. The clock operator stopped the clock, so he stopped the clock with essentially 11 seconds to go.”
“Seventeen second later, 17 second later on a clock that was not supposed to stop, they’re up to the line of scrimmage and spiked the ball, and the buzz came from replay right as the ball was snapped,” he explained. “So they went to review it. That’s another story. My issue with this is that the clock should never have stopped. I think it’s reasonable to say that Seattle may not have gotten off another play without this clock erroneously stopping.”
Blandino also stressed the initial ruling by the on-field official — that Wilson was down by contact — was correct, and that the clock operator prematurely stopped the clock out of confusion over whether it was an incomplete pass.
“Now, we don’t know if the clock had continued to run, would Seattle have had more of a sense of urgency and gotten lined up with 11 seconds,” Blandino argued. “Maybe they would, maybe they wouldn’t. We don’t know that, so we don’t know if they would have gotten another play.”
“I think the other issue is the ruling on the field, which was correct, is that he was down by contact,” he said. “Replay really can’t do anything with that. We both said as it was happening, ‘Why is replay stopping the game here?’ They did confirm that he was down, but there was nothing they could have done. They couldn’t make it an incomplete pass, because once the player’s ruled down, the only thing you can do is make it a fumble. So it was really an unnecessary stop.”
“Obviously there’s a mistake made,” Pereira said. “Who’s accountable? I mean, you have a suspension in 2015 in the San Diego-Pittsburgh game on a play that had no consequence at the end, because 18 seconds ran off a clock on a kickoff. To me, the league is pretty damn lucky that that pass was incomplete in the end zone, and not a touchdown by Seattle, because then there would have been a ton of discussion.”
The analysts discuss the play beginning around the 14:30 mark below.