Game-Changing Play of the Week: Late Savage Pick Called Back Upon Review

There was just one too many missed opportunities by the Packers on Sunday in Minneapolis.

Before I dive too far into this post, I should note that I don't particularly give the referees a whole lot of blame for the Packers' loss to the Vikings. 

In fact, given the abysmal standards set by NFL officiating this season, I don't even think this was that poorly of a refeereed football game. It wasn't good by any means, but good officiating is impossible to find in today's NFL. It is an unfortunate fact of life that there are going to be several outrageously terrible calls per game.

This, I believe, is not one of them. But it certainly changed the game.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Packers tied the ballgame at 31 after a 75-yard bomb to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. I quipped on Twitter at the time that the Packers had left too much time for Kirk Cousins. But Cousins, who had been seemingly desperate to throw an interception all game long, chucked up a prayer that landed right in the hands of Darnell Savage.

I, of course, lost my mind. The way the Packers' offense had been playing in the second half, I believed this to be a potential game-icer. There was no doubt in my mind that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers would drive down the field and win the game, despite all the challenges they'd faced so far and the slow start they had in the first half.

But upon review, the referees ruled that Savage did not complete the process of the catch when going to the ground, thereby making the pass incomplete.

The ball certainly comes out, but the debate that has been all over the internet since the play was whether it should have been ruled an interception given Savage got two feet plus a knee down with control of the ball. See the screenshot:

The question Peter asks here is certainly interesting. I don't think the referees make a different call for an offensive player here, and I personally believe this to be the correct call in the circumstance. But I'm certainly willing to hear arguments to the contrary.

Really, it was just one example of a play that encapsulates an entire game. The Packers simply had too many miscues and missed opportunities, and in the end it came back to bite them. Several missed interception opportunities, a missed field goal, too many penalties. All of that adds up over the course of a game, and when you're playing on the road against a feisty divisional opponent with a shorthanded team you can't commit those kinds of errors en masse and expect to come away with a victory.

See you at Lambeau in a few weeks, Minnesota.

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Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (22)

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Coldworld's picture

November 22, 2021 at 04:33 pm

I think it would be called the same for an offensive player too. I think he caught the ball and then had it knocked out on impact, but the nfl doesn’t see that as a football move. As I read the rules it’s got to be secure through ground impact if going to ground in the act of catching the ball.

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ImaPayne's picture

November 22, 2021 at 06:19 pm

He flubbed the whole thing until it hit the ground and came lose. All he had to do was clutch the thing and hug it not try and play bobble head with it. That play would have won us the game.

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NickPerry's picture

November 23, 2021 at 05:27 am

"That play would have won us the game."

Huh? Wait, what? You say that play would have won US the game?

Perhaps I'm wrong and if I am I apologize ahead of time...BUT, I don't believe I've ever heard a positive comment about the Packers from you EVER. I Genuinely thought you were perhaps a Vikings fan or a fan of another division .

Savage has made a shitload of pretty damn good plays here in 2.5 years. Hell just go back and watch the game vs Seattle the week before. He dropped it, that's probably why he doesn't play WR and plays Safety.

Lets move on and hope he gets the next one for US...

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jurp's picture

November 22, 2021 at 06:38 pm

I thought that his hand under the ball hit the ground, the ball popped up, and he grabbed and secured it. But then again, I have old eyes and had had two beers, so what do I know...

This is yet another game that the STs lost - Crosby missed an easy FG that would've led to a tie and OT. We're at two and counting...

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croatpackfan's picture

November 23, 2021 at 09:14 am

I'm not sure tha the last Queens possesion would ended with FG if they would be in position that FG means nothing to them. Remember, they take 2 knees before that FG. They had enough time to finish possesion with TD (taking in consideration how "good" was Packers D the whole game), so I will only say this - I was hoping MVS would take knee at half yard front of their end zone, so Packers would have 4 tries to kill the clock and score TD for overtime. Also, I understand why he did not do that.

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TXCHEESE's picture

November 22, 2021 at 04:34 pm

Agree wholeheartedly with everything you stated. A couple items of concern going forward are the injuries piling up and man, Mason has got to get right soon. Am I the only one that gets nervous when he lines up for an extra point?

I did read earlier that the Packers released Redmond today. Hopefully that points to a couple bodies coming off the IR.

With Aaron Donald coming to town, I'm more than a little nervous about the OL depth, and with OBJ now with the Rams, I worry whether or not we will have enough healthy kicking nets

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Coldworld's picture

November 22, 2021 at 05:20 pm

Redmond was on preseason IR, so he didn’t take up a roster spot. It just means he’s passed his physical and a settlement has been concluded. If no other team signs him, he would be available for us to resign after 6 weeks as a free agent. At this rate. Nothing is impossible.

Jenkins’ will go to IR at some point this week I suspect. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Braden promoted to take his place along side Kelly and Hanson as O line depth. Beyond that, it’s just a question of who may be elevated on Sunday. They could bring up a 3rd rb instead of Winfree (who has used up his 2 non claimable call ups). Lazard may be back and Atmstead has had a couple of weeks in the system. I note that Taylor scored highly on pass pro (as did Dillon), so he will likely be RB 2 again.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 23, 2021 at 04:30 am

No settlement. They couldn't reach an injury settlement within the first 7 business days so he went on IR for an indeterminate length of time knowing that he would be released when he could pass a physical. I calculate a cap savings of $358K.

Due all of his injuries and initial stints on the IR, it isn't clear to me whether he is a vested veteran. If he is, he could file a claim for that $358K, but he can only do so once. Decent chance he lets it go figuring he will be in the NFL in 2022 and beyond and might want to file such a claim later for more money. IDK though: if he's eligible $358K is a certainty and that ain't hay. I am assuming he is fully healed or will be so he can resume an NFL career.

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Coldworld's picture

November 23, 2021 at 08:19 am

I’m not completely sure of the workings of this, but as I understand it, settlement within 7 days means release without medical clearance to play. After that, release requires that clearance. If I understand it that protects the player against being dumped but unable to ply his trade. I’m therefore assuming that he’s capable of practicing at least and thus that the team’s obligations are ended as there is no salary guarantee here. The rules make him available to other teams as a FA, but not to us for a period (anti stashing provision).

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Tundraboy's picture

November 22, 2021 at 05:55 pm

I think we all are nervous when Crosby lines up these days.

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Johnblood27's picture

November 22, 2021 at 06:13 pm

Crosby is very steady when lining up for his paycheck...

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Johnblood27's picture

November 24, 2021 at 05:29 am

Has he missed any?

Hit the pay window frame?

Sheesh,...

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jurp's picture

November 22, 2021 at 06:39 pm

Are we still protecting the kicker on the PS, or is he gone? If we're still protecting him, lets continue that through the rest of the year.

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Coldworld's picture

November 22, 2021 at 06:50 pm

Molson has been protected every week so far.

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ImaPayne's picture

November 22, 2021 at 06:17 pm

Going forward since the start of the season has been trying to make a pigs ear (our secondary) into a silk purse. This is a terrible group of guys. They covered no one yesterday. Where did they get the idea of just dropping back and watching the receivers make the catch and not vying for the ball or fist figthing for it. Do we know how many pass interference calls are on the packers. Probably almost none.

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jurp's picture

November 22, 2021 at 06:40 pm

CBs follow the calls that they're given. You are about as good as Stockholder at football analysis. The DBs didn't lose the game yesterday.

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Packerpasty's picture

November 22, 2021 at 07:24 pm

well they sure as hell didn't help win it...and how many "almost int's" do the Packers have this year...I bet they lead the league in "almost"...or "should'a had it"

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ImaPayne's picture

November 22, 2021 at 06:14 pm

He's an fn clutz. This aint the first time he dropped a pass that was in his hands. Between him and King they should be called the flub brothers. Someone should tell them, hey not only receivers and running backs have to catch the ball so do you try in sometimes.

These are thos little oopses that cost you playoff games and championships

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jurp's picture

November 22, 2021 at 06:41 pm

SMH...

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marpag1's picture

November 23, 2021 at 05:08 am

Honestly, I don't know why this is even debated. According to NFL rules, it was not a catch.

Same thing with the roughing call. I don't really LIKE the NFL's rule, but it is what it is, and anyone who is knowledgeable about NFL football knows pretty well how the refs are going to call it. And somehow it's only "shocking" when it goes against your team.

A lot of people are also complaining about the long TD to Jefferson. Maybe "Fan Me" would like to say that Jefferson pushed off, but again, everyone who has watched a little football ought to know that this is virtually NEVER going to be called. That's just not how the rule is written and enforced.

No one needs to agree with NFL rules, of course. People are free to write their own little football rulebook and to interpret all plays according to their own self-made rules. Good luck with that, hey.

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Savage57's picture

November 23, 2021 at 09:29 am

"If he could catch, he'd be a wide receiver, not a defensive back."

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jont's picture

November 23, 2021 at 09:31 am

Sean Payton said the other day that his trouble with officiating this year-- and the reason he is no longer on the rules committee-- is not with the refs but with their leadership. He went no further for fear of a fine, but noted that a missed call is one thing and process problems are another.

I agree with him. The NFL office is infamously stacked with lawyers, and it seems to me that the league sends everything to a committee as its default approach for every issue, and a lengthy, unhelpful new procedure results. On the field we've seen this approach steadily wear down the quality of officiating.

Off the top of my head, here are a few bits that bother me the most:

1. "Forceful"-- When the QB gets hit in the head or neck, it's a foul if the contact is forceful. Or so it was; now even touching him draws a flag.

2. "Clear and obvious"-- Video review requires clear & obvious evidence that the call on the field was wrong in order to overturn it. IMO, if you need 3-5 minutes to piece together 3 or 4 angles on a play, then it is neither clear nor obvious so end the delay and play on.

3. Call what you see-- Officials are wrongly praised for relying on video review as the sole judge of more and more calls. The QB is hit as he throws, the ball goes forward, players fight for it, and advance. Then they go to review. The referee's job is to focus on the QB, and he should see if it's an incomplete pass or a fumble. Presumably he does, but nine times out of ten he will call nothing. There are other examples of the mission creep of review as a replacement for live calls, and this clearly weakens the officials in everyone's eyes, forces coaches to waste challenges, and slows the game.

4. The retired ref employment program-- Blandino, Sterator, and the rest add nothing to the broadcast, if you ask me. Bland, repetitive comments and the deep reluctance to admit a ref simply blew a call are so tiresome. I suppose the broadcasters need something to fill the review delays. In a more enlightened time they'd just show the cheerleaders... I'd take them over Perrera any day.

5. Tolerating the childish histrionics of Harbaugh and Carroll while flagging players for taunting-- OK, I'm going to stop here; this is enough of a rant already.

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