Wide receiver Tyler Lockett of the Seattle Seahawks wasn’t particularly pleased with the officials during their matchup with the San Francisco 49ers on January 14, and he let the media know about it afterward.
The Seahawks didn’t commit a penalty the entire first half against the 49ers. But on their first drive of the third quarter, the Seahawks offensive line committed two mistakes. The offense was able to overcome the first one (a false start), but the second error, which was an ineligible man downfield penalty, indirectly led to a giveaway.
Lockett voiced his frustration with the ineligible man downfield foul to the media.
“It was a tough game. Very unfortunate events. I think we had San Fran exactly where we wanted them too,” Lockett said. “Very questionable call about illegal man downfield in a lot of our opinions. That really stopped the momentum of our drive.”
Without the penalty, the Seahawks would have faced a third-and-short at the 49ers 7-yard line. The Seahawks were in prime position to at least answer San Francisco’s first second half touchdown with a field goal.
Instead, the Seahawks moved back to the 19-yard line and had a second-and-14. Quarterback Geno Smith then threw an incomplete pass and fumbled on a sack on third down.
Questionable Ineligible Man Downfield Penalty?
It’s tough to say officiating influenced a game that ended 41-23. But Lockett appeared to have a beef.
The Fox broadcast analyzed a replay of the penalty and circled guard Damien Lewis, who was the lineman deemed downfield too early. But when Fox paused the replay, Lewis appeared to be only about 2 yards downfield as Smith released the ball, which is within the buffer that the NFL allows lineman to be.
Lockett was almost in disbelief as he discussed the play further with the media.
“We got it to where we wanted it. 3rd and 2, and they [the officials] called illegal man down field,” Lockett said. “Very, very tough just because I think Geno [Smith] threw it in 1.2 seconds, so it’s hard for anybody to get past the line of scrimmage.”
The Seahawks were called for an ineligible man downfield penalty three times overall in the playoff loss. The other two were definitely correct calls, but Lewis’ foul as Seattle was driving to retake the lead seemed to be a “borderline” decision at best.
NFL Officiating Already Under Fire for Seahawks-Rams Controversy
Lockett is probably not going to have many supporters nationally because of the final score of the game. The fact the Seahawks benefited from questionable calls just a week prior will also not help his case.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on January 13 that “multiple controversial officiating decisions” in the regular season finale between the Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams left executives and coaches around the league feeling the NFL “needs to reevaluate how it chooses and trains its officiating staff for future seasons.”
Three calls in the second half of that contest helped the Seahawks win. First, a running into the kicker penalty on a punt in the fourth quarter gave Seattle a first down. Extending that drive eventually led to the game-tying field goal for the Seahawks.
Upon further review, the running into a kicker penalty probably should not have been called because the player was blocked into the punter.
Then in the final minutes of regulation and overtime, DK Metcalf poked his hand into a defender’s face, and Quandre Diggs pointed to the Rams bench after an interception. Neither incident drew a penalty.
The Seahawks also benefited from a no-call on a potential intentional grounding in overtime.
All of those officiating decisions were very impactful, as it helped the Seahawks win and keep their playoff hopes alive. With a Seahawks loss, the Detroit Lions would have made the postseason instead.
“The Lions should be livid,” a source told Schefter. “It was an awful way for them to end their season.”
Officiating around the league the past couple weeks seems to not be as good or consistent as usual. It needs to be better with late December and January games mattering so much.
Having said that, the great teams overcome poor officiating. Whether it was the right call or not, the Seahawks were not able to overcome Lewis’ ineligible man downfield foul against San Francisco.