Even the NFL replacement official who awarded the Seattle Seahawks a controversial game-winning touchdown against the Green Bay Packers now says that call was wrong.
In an interview on Showtime's "Inside the NFL," Wayne Elliott says his interpretation of a simultaneous catch was wrong, even though the ruling was upheld by an NFL official's replay review.
"I'd probably call interception," Elliott, who was serving as crew chief and not involved with the initial call, told Showtime. "I learned a rule by screwing up the rule."
Former University of Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson's Hail Mary pass to Seahawks receiver Golden Tate on the game's final play gave Seattle a 14-12 win, even though replays indicated that Packers defensive back M.D. Jennings should have been awarded an interception.
Replays also showed that Tate pushed off Green Bay defensive back Sam Shields before jumping for the ball in the end zone, and the NFL came out with a statement the following day indicating the offensive pass interference should have been called.
But Elliott said the NFL trained them to ignore contact on such a play.
"It was brought up that you don't really call interference on a Hail Mary," he said. "Deep officials were trained that during a Hail Mary, there are a lot of bodies in there, you just let it go."
The backlash from the errant call on Monday Night Football sparked a quick resolution to the labor impasse between the NFL and its union referees.
Elliott said he was the subject of a lot of angry calls following the game, but that Packers coach Mike McCarthy reached out to him with some words of encouragement.
"He called me at my house last week because he had heard I was having a rough week with all the calls and everything," Elliott told Showtime. "Wanted (me) to know that he thought what I did — controversial and maybe he didn't agree with it — (but he thought) I handled it with class."
When asked if he was treated poorly by players, Elliott singled out Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
"I had Jay Cutler, when we did not reset the game clock for him after a discussion among a penalty enforcement, call me a (expletive) replacement ref. (He said), 'just because you're a replacement ref, you've got to know the (expletive) rules.'
"Three minutes later during a timeout, I'm standing next to him. He's got some water. He said, 'Do you want some water?' I said, 'Yes, even though I'm an [expletive] replacement ref, I'll drink your water. He said, 'It's all I could say to get your attention.'"