For all the talk of Seattle’s slow start against Tampa Bay, one can only wonder how differently the game may have developed had Earl Thomas not been called for pass interference early in the second quarter, wiping out his apparent interception (a play pictured above in a John Lok photo).
Instead of a 0-0 game and Seattle with the ball at its own 22 or so, Tampa Bay got the ball there and quickly drove for a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead.
And as the Seahawks expected, the NFL told them this week — according to coach Pete Carroll — that the call was in error.
As Carroll explained:
“Yes I did (hear back) and it shouldn’t have been called and the point was that when a defensive back places his hand back in an arm-barring position, they have to decide whether or not he actually impeded the progress of the receiver to the ball. And if you don’t, then it’s not a foul and that’s what they determined as well. So again, I want to applaud those guys about being upfront about it and making the calls and then critiquing them. They’re trying to do it the best they can. I’ve got no problem with what’s going on. I like that they critique it and then they get to what really looks to be the truth of it, and I was very adamant about finding out exactly the wording so that we’re very clear on telling the players “you know, ‘Can you place your hand there?’’ because it was very incidental. It was just a feeling for where the receiver was, and so it was a great play. But maybe the next time, they’ll call it the other way.”
Thomas said after the game and again this week that he was still thinking about the call for a few plays afterward — the penalty wiped out what would have been his NFL-leading fifth interception of the season.
“I knew that was going to happen,’’ he said of hearing that the NFL determined the penalty should not have been called. “I told the refs on the field ‘so what are you going to do when you look at the film and be like ‘okay it wasn’t a PI?’ That would have been five for me and that means a lot you know? But I learned from those experiences because I was kind of thinking about that play for a couple of plays. But the good thing I could take away from that is I was able to finish strong and just keep playing through it.’’
Some have pointed to that play this week to wonder anew if officials are taking a little more careful look at Seattle’s secondary, given its burgeoning reputation.
Cornerback Richard Sherman, though, said he’s not worried about it.
“I think a lot of those people that are making those calls won’t be in the playoffs, because that’s how the league does it,’’ Sherman said, alluding to the fact that officials win playoff assignments based on how they grade out during the regular season. “You don’t make mistakes in big games and get to do them in the playoffs. We’re not worried about it, we’ll keep playing the game the way we play it and let the calls be what they are.”