Context for the Packers-Seahawks Final Play

To put last night's Russell Wilson-to-Golden Tate Hail Mary That Shouldn't Have Been in perspective, consider these sets of plays from Week 3 that add up to +0.99 WPA, the total awarded for the Seahawks' game-winning play.

Set 1

  • JAX @ IND: 1st and 10, 0:56 Q4, 16-17: B. Gabbert pass short right to C. Shorts for 80 yards, TOUCHDOWN, 0.73 WPA
  • NE @ BAL: 3rd and 9, 2:28 Q4, 30-28: T. Brady pass short right intended for W. Welker INTERCEPTED by L. Webb at NE 40. L. Webb to NE 40 for no gain. PENALTY on L.Webb Illegal Contact 5 yards enforced at NE 32. 0.22 WPA
  • BUF @ CLE: 2nd and 6, Q2 0-14: T. Richardson right guard for 6 yards TOUCHDOWN. 0.04 WPA
Set 2
  • DET @ TEN: 2nd and 10, 0:06 Q4, 34-41: Sh. Hill pass deep middle to T. Young for 46 yards TOUCHDOWN. 0.42 WPA
  • KC @ NO: 4th and 5, 2:26 Q4, 21-24: M. Cassel pass short left to D. Bowe to NO 39 for 7 yards. 0.27 WPA
  • NYJ @ MIA: 3rd and 7, 10:53 Q3, 10-10: M. Sanchez pass short right intended for S. Hill INTERCEPTED by C. Clemons at MIA -5. Touchback. 0.20 WPA
  • NE @ BAL: 2nd and 15, 6:43 Q3, J. Flacco pass deep left to T. Smith pushed ob at NE 47 for 38 yards. 0.10 WPA
Set 3
  • JAX @ IND: 1st and 10, 1:33 Q4, 14-16: A. Luck pass short left to D. Brown pushed ob at JAX 28 for 39 yards. 0.39 WPA.
  • NE @ BAL: 2nd and 7, 1:26 Q4, 28-30: J. Flacco pass deep right to D. Pitta pushed ob at NE 35 for 17 yards. 0.34 WPA
  • DET @ TEN: 1st and 15, 3:23 Q4, 27-27: J. Locker pass deep left to N. Washington for 71 yards TOUCHDOWN. 0.19 WPA
  • HOU @ DEN: 3rd and 6, 3:05 Q4, 18-31: P. Manning pass short left to J. Dreessen for 6 yards TOUCHDOWN. 0.07 WPA.
These are some of the biggest plays from around the NFL this week. It only takes a handful before we arrive at the point where refereeing decisions swing an entire game one way or another. 

Sometimes it only takes one. Monday night's situation was rock bottom; the worst possible outcome from incompetent refereeing. We might just see these replacements back on the field next week, and pure odds tells us they probably won't make a similarly awful mistake next week. But they might make three or four smaller ones, and as you see here, snowballs can turn into avalanches.

The locked out referees are not perfect. Nobody is suggesting they are. But sports are supposed to be one of the few things in life where the results are truthfully representative of what actually took place. The closer we are to the truth, the better. Simple as that.

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14 Responses to “Context for the Packers-Seahawks Final Play”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I'd also be curious about some of the other bad calls and how those changed the outcome. Could be wrong, but I don't think Rodgers really made a first down near the goal line, which turned a FG into a TD. The PI call on that drive (on Chancellor?) also looked pretty bad and gave the Packers a first down.

  2. Mark B says:

    Brian, excellent perspective. How did the ref reversal of the P Thomas TD affect WPA in the KC game?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Not sure where play #2 in Set 1 is coming from. Tom Brady did not throw any interceptions against the Ravens this past week.

  4. tgt says:

    Play #2 in Set 1 is the interception that was called back for phantom "illegal contact" (though holding would have been a valid call).

  5. Jack Moore says:


    Misread the play-by-play there. The Patriots actually got +.22 WPA for the penalty resulting. I'll go in and edit that. Thanks.

  6. Jack Moore says:

    And that should be good.

  7. Phil Birnbaum says:

    Any source comparing the replacement refs to last year's regular refs, in terms of dubious calls?

    Quantitatively, I mean.

  8. Anonymous says:

    So the big takeaway is that last-second game-winning plays significantly affect the outcome of winning?

    Or is this about the high correlation between finishing with the most points and winning?

    The refs made the wrong call on this play but they also made plenty of bad calls throughout the game. The fact that this play was the most memorable is sort of besides the point.

  9. Unknown says:

    If we looked at every bad call in the Green Bay game instead of just the last one, we'd be saying that the refs made up for bad calls earlier. As another commenter noted, the refs bailed out Green Bay and allowed them a TD instead of a FG. That would have meant Seattle kicked a field goal on their second to last possession rather than a turnover on downs, so really, the score should have been 10-9 with Green Bay having the ball for a potential game winning drive. They may still have won, but obviously it would be a much different game.

  10. Shawn says:

    A call that will go down in NFL history....

  11. Anonymous says:


    Wait so you mean they would have kicked a field goal on that drive where Shields was called for pass interference on first and 25 when Sydney Rice face masked him? Or do you mean the drive when Russel Wilsons INT was called back on a horrendous roughing the passer call? Oh never mind that was the same drive. Not saying their weren't bad calls both ways, but there was definitely no need to "make up" any calls for Seattle, as they had done that plenty already.

    Oh and by the way, Rodgers did make the first down, you can explicitly see it at 4:16 of the game highlights on

  12. Anonymous says:

    Excruciating game. Terribly called the whole way, though I thought there were a few more big blown calls against the Packers before that last call. I'm not watching this next week, or the week after that if these clowns aren't gone.

  13. Jay says:

    I thought the spot of the ball BEFORE the Rodgers 3rd and 1 was pretty bad. It looks like they spotted it where his foot went out, and not where the ball was at the time. I don't think it was a touchdown, but it was a hell of a lot closer to at least a first down than they spotted it.

  14. Anonymous says:

    From what I can see:

    Bad PI call on Seattle that extended a GB drive took Seattle from a 58% chance of winning to 41%. Assumes GB punts on 4th and 2.

    Bad Roughing call on GB that overturned an INT late:
    GB went from a 91% chance of winning to 72%. The INT would have let GB run clock and at least have an easy FG to give them a 9 point lead.

    PI call on Shields late in the game:
    Packers went from 69% chance of winning to 43%. Seattle would have been 2nd & 25 w/o the penalty.

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