Green Bay Packers flashback: The ‘Fail Mary’


This past week, Green Bay Packers fans saw a play that looked to everyone like one thing, but got ruled otherwise by officials to help lead to a loss. I’m of course talking about the Dez Bryant non-catch versus the Packers.

For anyone upset about it or thinks the Cowboys got hazed out of a win, think again.

Mistakes get made, even in major moments like that one.

There was no bias by the refs to help Green Bay

here; these issues have hit every team at some point, including Green Bay. The one Packers fans and the team remember most was even more impactful on their game, if not their season.

It was 2012, just a regular Week 3 night game between Green Bay and Seattle. It seemed like a pretty ordinary, low-scoring contest; outside of the eight first-half sacks of Aaron Rodgers, it was just that.

But then, the inexplicable happened.

Russell Wilson drops back and makes a last ditch toss to the end zone with no time left in the game, right into a crowd of players. A few different players on both side jumped, and it appeared to practically everyone that M.D. Jennings for Green Bay had managed to secure the ball.

Seattle Seahawks receiver Golden Tate battles for a 24-yard touchdown pass as Green Bay Packers players Sam Shields (37), and Jarrett Bush (24), and Charles Woodson (21) and Jarrett Williams (38) defend on the final play at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks defeated the Packers 14-12. Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE photograph

The call on the field and after replays: simultaneous possession, with the catch going to Golden Tate.

Apparently what happened during the play was that while Jennings first got his hands on it, but by the time they were both on the ground Tate had mucked things up and at least made it questionable as to whether Jennings was the only one in possession (since in the case of a simultaneous catch, it goes to the offense).

Take a look yourself.

You tell me which way that call should’ve gone. The play was immediately dubbed the ‘Fail Mary’ – for obvious reasons – and sparked heavy debate and backlash immediately.

Everybody outside of Seattle was adamant that Green Bay should have been given the ball there (Seattle obviously agreed with the official call, because of course they did).

To add more insult to injury, the NFL also said that there should have been offensive pass interference on Tate anyway before he even jumped (they didn’t say the official was wrong in the simultaneous catch call though, because of course they didn’t).

The league did admit their mistake in another way, however. If you remember, the NFL employed replacement officials while the regular referees were locked out. The results were a lackluster performance from the officiating crews that tended to affect the quality of games.

Referee Wayne Elliott speaks with field judge Richard Simmons (102) before making a ruling on a call between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE photograph

The ‘Fail Mary’ was the biggest – and last – straw; the NFL worked vigorously and struck a new deal with the regular referees (who somehow aren’t full-time employees of the NFL yet despite their massive importance in games. Go figure.) to bring them back for the rest of the season.

Beyond just that, Green Bay ended up losing out on a bye-week in the playoffs because of their record; it may have not made that much of a difference (would still have played San Francisco, which probably would have had that strong game anywhere), but you never know how things turn out.

Today, that result shouldn’t mean much anymore, but there are a couple of lasting impressions the result helped build. It was where this Seattle team began its ascent in the public’s eye as well as the league’s hierarchy.

On the negative side, the ‘Fail Mary’ game plays a big part in the still-somewhat-current view that fans and analysts tend to have of Green Bay being a ‘soft’ or ‘finesse’ team that can be pushed around.

That’s been pushed back a ton in the past year or so, but the perception is still out there that Green Bay can be physically dominated (counterpoint: EVERY team can be outmuscled and beaten on any given game; as annoyingly simple as that sounds, it is still true).

The true impact of this game – just like that of the Bryant non-catch – has already ended.

Those games are over, the true effects of that and the ‘Fail Mary’ each set in stone.

But … both have the perceptions that live on because of the questionable results. That’s the state the Bryant catch will reach over time, as well as what the Seattle and Green Bay teams currently feel the effects of now.

This rematch in Seattle gives each team a chance to either keep feeding into that idea (Seattle win) or flip the script (Green Bay victory).

I’m excited to see which comes to fruition.

Next: Is Eddie Lacy carrying a few more pounds?