So there it is.
Three months after it occurred, the "Fail Mary" deposited one ripple in the NFC playoff seeding: It cost the Green Bay Packers a first-round bye in the 2012 playoffs.
You know the drill in this post. We've been tracking the potential impact of the controversial call that ended the Packers' Week 3 game at the Seattle Seahawks: A 24-yard pass ruled a touchdown via simultaneous possession between Seahawks receiver Golden Tate and Packers safety M.D. Jennings. The play, which the NFL later said should have been nullified by an offensive pass interference call on Tate, hastened a labor agreement with permanent officials but left the Packers victimized by the league's decision to bypass the integrity of the game in the name of economics.
We've been through all of the counter-arguments here on the blog. Some of you believe Tate was rightfully credited with a touchdown. Others point to the a number of poor calls that preceeded that play. Many of you don't think it's fair to assume that the remainder of the NFL's season would have played out exactly the same way had the Packers won.
My feeling is that there is that you can find evidence to support either conclusion on the Tate-Jennings play. While there were calls that went against the Seahawks earlier in the game, the Packers didn't have the opportunity to overcome one on the final play of the game. And as for the Butterfly Effect, I'll ask Rod Serling about that and get back to you.
In the end, the Packers would have been the NFC's No. 2 seed, and thus received a first-round bye, with one more victory this season. You could argue they had a chance to overcome the "Fail Mary" by defeating the Minnesota Vikings in Week 17, but let's all be clear about the difference between "overcome" and "secure." The former implies an additional effort to defeat an obstacle.
Fortunately for everyone, the impact was relatively minimal. The Packers were the NFC North division champions regardless, and the Seahawks would have made the playoffs with or without a victory in Week 3. But I'm glad we tracked this issue nonetheless, and I hope we never have reason to again.