Depending on your fan allegiance, the controversial play that decided the 2012 Seattle-Green Bay game came to be known as the “Hail Mary” or the “Fail Mary.”
To Seattle Seahawks players, it’s simply the “Forgotten Mary.”
“I don’t even remember that game, to tell you the truth,” Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor said. “There’s been a lot of games since then — a lot of important games. It hasn’t come up at all, nowhere in the building.”
So, ancient history?
“It’s not even history,” Chancellor said. “In this league, history was yesterday … history was an hour ago.”
You won’t know that if you watch television this week, as some networks have worked for months on extensive packages examining the final play of the game on Sept. 24 at CenturyLink Field.
Green Bay led 12-7, but the Seahawks and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson had the ball with eight seconds remaining. Wilson avoided pressure and rolled to his left, lofting a pass to the back of the end zone toward receiver Golden Tate.
As replays showed, Tate pushed Sam Shields to clear space, and latched onto the ball at some point along with the Packers’ M.D. Jennings.
Jennings seemed to have controlled it first, but Tate had enough of the ball when they hit the turf that a case could be made for simultaneous possession, which would cause the ball to be awarded to the offense.
Enhancing the drama was the fact that replacement officials were calling the game during a lockout of the regular crews due to a labor dispute.
Banker Lance Easley, who had never officiated a game at a level higher than NCAA Division III, did not flag Tate for offensive pass interference, and ruled the play a Tate catch for a touchdown.
Monday Night Football announcer Jon Gruden said Tate was guilty of “one of the most blatant pass interference” violations he’d ever seen.
The regular refs returned the next week, and Easley went on to write a book about the experience, in which he told about the pass by Seattle quarterback “Matt Wilson.” (Perhaps his publisher was working with replacement editors that week.)
Coach Pete Carroll said Monday that nothing that happened last season, during their Super Bowl run, had any relevance to what is going on this week as the Seahawks open their 2014 season.
That would make anything from two years ago even less relevant. Ten Seahawks starters that day are no longer with the team, including Tate.
“I forgot all about that play and that game; that was like, what, three years ago?” said linebacker K.J. Wright. “We have not brought it up one single time.”
“It was just a weird game,” center Max Unger said. “It’s got no relevance.”
Tackle Russell Okung said it was like every other game: “We move on right after the game is over. We always look forward to the next game; there is no past.”
But, as it was Russell Wilson’s first fourth-quarter, game-winning drive, wasn’t that at least an early example of some of the magic he has as a quarterback?
“We see that from him all the time, and it’s not magic, but the way he prepares,” Okung said. “And he’s been like that all the time. Football has such a small margin of error, sometimes it comes down to the last play. We were really fortunate on that one.”
While many fans remember that play as the one that proved Wilson’s potential early as a rookie, the numbers show that until that play, he had completed just nine passes for 89 yards.
Looking back, Wright thought that Wilson truly arrived during the overtime win over Chicago, in which he led a late come-from-behind scoring drive in regulation, and then another scoring drive in overtime.
“I thought that Chicago game, more than the Green Bay game, was the one when Russell showed he was really a big-time quarterback,” Wright said. “That Green Bay game, that was a little luck right there.”
Cornerback Richard Sherman said they’ve watched films of the game to study tendencies, but “other than that, we don’t talk about it much. It’s been two years in the past. I think fans get more out of it than we do.”