Packer safety M.D. Jennings appeared to have intercepted Russell Wilson’s desperation, last-second pass in the end zone, even though Tate came into the play by getting his hands on the ball. But Jennings came down with it pressed against his body.
The referees came in — one signaling a touchback, Elliott signalling a touchdown. His call, remarkably, was upheld after review, causing an avalanche of criticism at the replacement referees. Two days later the sides come to an agreement, ending the three-month-old lockout. The NFL issued a statement after the game saying that Tate should have been called for offensive pass inteference, but that it stood by Elliott’s call.
Elliott, interviewed by Showtime’s “Inside The NFL,” said, after watching the replay of the play: “I’d probably call interception. I learned a rule by screwing up the rule.”
Big admission by Elliott on a call that turned his world upside down. He said his phone constantly rang for three days. One of the calls he received was from Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy, who left Elliott a message.
“He called me at my house last week because he had heard I was having a rough week with all the calls and everything,” Elliott said during the segment. “Wanted (me) to know that he thought what I did — controversial and maybe he didn’t agree with it — (but he thought) I handled it with class.”
In the replay of the infamous play, Tate clearly pushed off on a defender before leaping to get his hands on the ball. That penalty was in Elliott’s direct line of sight but went uncalled.
Elliott said that during training he remembered being told that “you don’t really call interference on a Hail Mary. . . You just let it go.”
Despite all the controversy, Elliott said being an NFL referee – if only for a short time – “the time of my life.”