Refs missed the worst face mask ever on Seattle’s crazy touchdown catch

Paul Richardson made one of the great catches you’ll ever see to open the scoring in Saturday night’s NFC wild-card game between his Seattle Seahawks and the Detroit Lions. And this isn’t the weekly hyperbole that accompanies any catch of difficulty. It’s the real deal, as Richardson went up, jumped over Lions safety Tavon Wilson, held out his left arm while Wilson was committing an egregious pass interference and managed to corral the ball while falling to the turf for a touchdown so great it wasn’t immediately clear that he actually caught it.

But there was something odd about the physics of it all. Wilson, who was flagged for the PI (which was declined), was charging into Richardson like it was a demolition derby. How was Richardson able to stop his backward momentum enough to get his arm in place so the pass fell right into it? Easy. He grabbed Wilson’s face mask, held on for dear life while nearly ripping it from its bolts and used it as leverage to defy the laws of physics and football to make the grab. The thing that made the catch so great (Wilson’s interference) is what made it possible in the first place. If there’s no face mask to hold onto, the pass falls short of Richardson’s grasp.

There was no call on the attempted Exorcist move though, possibly because officials were too busy noticing the PI, possibly because officials were too busy marveling at the catch or possibly because it’s a Seahawks home game and refs would sooner correct the Pope at the Vatican than call something on Seattle in Seattle. Julio Jones knows what I’m talking about.

(USA TODAY Sports Images)
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Caldwell was asked by sideline reporter Michele Tafoya about the play and what the officials said when he discussed the play with them. “They said they got it wrong,” Caldwell told her.