Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Pete Carroll: ‘Perfect play’ by Seahawks’ Kam Chancellor, K.J. Wright vs. Lions overshadowed by officials’ mistake

Pete Carroll said he had never witnessed a similar play and added that he didn’t know the rule himself — a loose ball cannot be batted in any direction in the end zone.

Jim Caldwell, coach of the Detroit Lions, on Tuesday didn’t want to talk anymore about the controversial ending to Monday night’s game at CenturyLink Field.

But just about everyone else in the NFL did, as the play — specifically, Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright’s admitted illegal batting of the ball out of the end zone — remained hotly debated.

“It’s over and done with,’’ Caldwell told reporters in Detroit about a play that sealed the Seahawks’ 13-10 victory over the Lions, adding that he planned to tell his players “not to talk about it because we can’t be hanging on to something that we can do nothing about.’’

That didn’t stop seemingly everyone else around the league from weighing in, though. Veteran Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, lamenting that the play was not ruled properly, wrote that “the Lions, and the sport of football, lost on Monday night.’’

In Seattle, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll lamented instead that all of the discussion focused on how the officials botched the call rather than what led up to it — Kam Chancellor’s punch of the ball that knocked it out of the arms of Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson just before he reached the end zone to score the potential winning touchdown.

“I just think it’s unfortunate because it was such an incredible play,’’ Carroll said during his regular day-after-game radio show on ESPN 710 Seattle. “An incredibly poised, disciplined, fully-in-the-moment play by Kam and also K.J. It was a perfect play to end a game in a dramatic fashion.’’

In fact, Carroll praised Wright for doing what he thought was, well, right.

Carroll, who turned 64 last month, said he had never witnessed a similar play and added that he didn’t know the rule himself — a loose ball cannot be batted in any direction in the end zone.

“That was a smart play,’’ Carroll said. “I would have done the exact same thing. I didn’t know that rule, either. I’ve never even seen it come up, and I’ve been coaching for I don’t even know how many years it is (officially, since 1974) and how many games it could possibly be. I don’t know if anyone would have known that.’’

Wright said after the game that he didn’t know batting the ball out of bounds in the end zone was against the rules.

“I wanted to just knock it out of bounds and not try to catch it and fumble it,’’ he said. “Just trying to make a good play for my team.’’

The video shows back judge Gregory Wilson initially reach with his right hand for the flag but not pull it out of his pocket. Caldwell said Tuesday he heard “a discussion going on there’’ among the officials “in terms of how it works.’’ The play, though, was not reviewable, and once the officials on the field declined to make the call, it ended there.

“Once they have it ironed out, it’s out of our control,” Caldwell said.

But even as he said he didn’t want to further the controversy, Caldwell made clear he thought the officials got it wrong. Told that Carroll said he didn’t know the rule, Caldwell said, “There’s obviously officials that don’t know the rules as well.”

Had a penalty been called, Detroit would have had the ball with a first down inside the 1-yard line and 1:45 remaining.

Instead, Seattle had the ball at its own 20 and was able to run out the clock in improving to 2-2.

Dean Blandino, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, said Monday night on the NFL Network that a penalty should have been called, stating, “That is a foul for an illegal bat. The back judge was on the play. 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 did look like a bat.’’

On Tuesday, the league said that statement would be the only comment it would make.

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