|National Football League|
Playoff race makes odd allies of Packers, Seahawks
By NANCY ARMOUR
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Pay up, Seahawks.
The Green Bay Packers have put the Inaccurate Reception behind them, and they've done their best not to begrudge Seattle the win that really wasn't. But karma has a way of coming back around, and the Seahawks have a chance to put things right this weekend.
"Without looking in the past, we have to root for a team we fell short to," Clay Matthews said Thursday. "So that's how it goes. We'll control our own destiny by winning these out and hopefully we can get some help along the way."
See, San Francisco (10-3-1) is a game ahead of Green Bay (10-4) for the NFC's No. 2 seed and Seattle plays the 49ers on Sunday night. Beat the Niners and the Seahawks can essentially get the Packers back to where they would have been had replacement referees not blown that call back in September.
Which means that, providing they beat Tennessee on Sunday afternoon, the Packers will find themselves rooting for the Seahawks.
"Yeah, but we'd love to have that bye, be sitting there at the 1 or 2 seed," Aaron Rodgers said. "So at this point, we're trying to have a short memory, kind of rooting for the teams that you need to win."
The Inaccurate Reception, alternately known as the Fail Mary, was arguably the worst call of the NFL season. Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings appeared to intercept a last-ditch pass to Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate in the end zone only to have replacement referees rule it a touchdown, giving Seattle a 14-12 win. While the NFL said the next day that the reception call was right, it conceded that Tate should have been called for interference on the play, which would have given Green Bay the win.
The outrage was immediate, and came from every corner of the country. Fans were already fed up after several other questionable calls, and they were incensed one had actually affected the outcome of a game. By the end of the week, the league and its union referees had a new deal.
But many feared the game would cost Green Bay, and wondered what the league would do if it did. Turns out, all that angst was for nothing. The Packers have won eight of nine - only Denver has been better during the span - and last week clinched their second straight NFC North title.
"That's one thing you worried about at the time, if we're sitting here the last week of the season and have to win to get in, or maybe win and get some help. That would have been probably talked about more," Rodgers said. "It's going to probably affect (Seattle) more. They're in a position right now to, I believe, clinch a berth with a win this week. It's not on our minds anymore."
Yes, but if the Packers had that extra win, they, not San Francisco, would be sitting in the No. 2 spot right now.
"There's a lot of what-ifs," Rodgers said. "Nothing we can do about it."
No, but Seattle can.
The Seahawks are 6-0 at CenturyLink Field this year, joining Atlanta as the NFL's only teams with perfect home records. After winning three straight and five of their last six, Seattle can secure at least a wild-card berth with a victory Sunday.
"I don't know if they owe us anything - not them, in particular," Matthews said.
But if the Seahawks would like to wipe the karmic slate clean, who are the Packers to argue?
"We want home field," James Jones said, "so hopefully they get it done."
NOTES: With the winter's first big storm dumping more than a half-foot of snow on Green Bay by midday, coach Mike McCarthy cut practice short early Thursday. "I feel it's important to get our players home today before it gets dark," McCarthy said. "The bulk of the storm is coming between noon and 6 p.m. is my understanding. We do have a couple guys who haven't driven in snow before, so this is a little bit of an exciting introduction to say the least." ... Despite the weather, McCarthy said all of the players made it to practice on time. ... McCarthy is optimistic OL T.J. Lang (concussion) will be cleared for Sunday's game. Lang wasn't able to go through the concussion evaluation Thursday because he's got the flu. ... C Jeff Saturday (neck/shoulder) and G Greg Van Roten (back) also missed practice Thursday, but McCarthy expects they'll play Sunday.
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Updated December 20, 2012