I’m sitting at the FOX Network Center for a great day of watching the Divisional Playoff football and I’m beginning to think that Seattle, in regards to its fans, may have it wrong.
The fans in the Emerald City are affectionately known at the 12th Man. I think we may need a recount … to perhaps 13.
I’m pretty sure you need to count Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch as two people. The man’s a beast. Lynch rushed for a Seattle playoff-record 140 yards and scored the decisive touchdown in the Seahawks’ 23-15 victory over New Orleans.
The officials in this game were also a beast.
A lot of people were talking about the referees after last week’s Wild Card games, saying the officials "let ‘em play." That wasn’t the case in Seattle as 15 penalties were called and 14 accepted – 8 against New Orleans and 6 against Seattle.
Fourteen of the 15 accepted penalties were major fouls. So there was only one "simple five," a delay of game penalty. There were no offside penalties, illegal formations or false starts.
I thought referee Terry McAulay and his crew did a good job, especially since the teams were mouthing off before the game started. There was some pushing and shoving and definitely some ill will. The crew knew it was going to have to work hard to keep the game under control, which it did.
There was only one replay review, a tight catch on the sideline late in the fourth quarter, but it was a key one. On a third-and-3 from its own 45-yard line, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson hit Doug Baldwin for a 24-yard completion. The play was ruled a catch and challenged by the Saints.
Baldwin actually got control after the bobble with his left hand and got his right knee down before the left foot hit out of bounds. The officials were able to confirm it as a catch. An excellent call made on the field in real time.
My overall grade for the officiating crew: A
They had nothing to do with the outcome of the game, which is what you want from an officiating perspective. They called what they saw. Very few things that I saw that should have been called and werenât. They stepped up and called a solid game, a solid start for the NFL and the Divisional Round.