Did Replacement Refs Cost Chicago Bears a Playoff Berth?
The Chicago Bears started off the season like gangbusters, jumping out to a 8-1 record in the first half of the season and putting on a weekly defensive clinic the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the 1985 team. But the crowning of the Bears as the team to beat in the NFC was apparently premature, as they stumbled to a 10-6 regular season record, and missed the playoffs once again.
You know who else might have…check that…SHOULD have finished 10-6? The Seattle Seahawks.
Yeah, those Seahawks. Remember the team that was gifted a win against the Green Bay Packers in Week 3 when the replacement officials made one of the most ridiculously bad calls ever at the end of the game. (Seattle WR Golden Tate is now immortalized in the urban dictionary under “push-off”.)
After all the review and argument, it didn’t matter. The Seahawks “won” that game, and everyone talked about how it could possibly affect the playoff standings at the end of the season when it came to the Seahawks and the Packers. In the end, it really didn’t affect the Packers. Green Bay managed to roll through most of the season and won the NFC North anyway. At best, the extra victory might have given them a first round bye.
But was Seattle’s erroneous victory the reason other teams were kept out of the playoffs…say, like…the Bears?
Well, as much as Chicago fans might like to look for a scapegoat outside of Soldier Field, the sad truth is that even if Seattle finished with a 10-6 record, they still would have gone to the postseason ahead of the Bears.
Why? How about Week 13, and a 23-17 overtime loss to Seattle in Chicago. Per the NFL rules, the first tie-breaker for the Wild Card between two teams from different divisions: Head-to-head.
So in the end, a 12-play, 7:27 minute 80-yard drive in overtime would have kept the Bears out of the playoffs even if the replacement refs got the call right in Seattle.