Whew, simultaneous catches no sweat now

With the NFL's regular officials set to return, I wanted to assure everyone that simultaneous-catch rulings will be handled in a manner agreeable to all parties.

The shoddy manner in which replacement officials handled the Seattle-Green Bay play Monday night could never happen with the professional game officials on duty.

Let history be our guide.

A 1998 ruling from a game between the Seattle Seahawks and San Diego Chargers comes to mind. Seattle's Joey Galloway and San Diego's Terrance Shaw went after a deep pass at the Chargers' 2-yard line. Officials awarded the ball to the Seahawks, who scored a touchdown two plays later, breaking open a close game.

And, as you might expect, the regular officials handled the situation with aplomb.

"Back judge Bobby Skelton tripped and rolled into the end zone," the Associated Press reported at the time, "but [he] saw the simultaneous catch prior to falling down, referee Larry Nemmers said afterward."

Even though the call went against San Diego, the Chargers appreciated the professional administration of the rules.

Consider postgame comments from June Jones, the Chargers' interim coach at the time.

"But you know, that's the way the NFL is," Jones said in the AP report. "The official who made the call was on his back in the end zone. That's all I have to say about that."

Galloway conceded that Shaw had a better grip on the ball. He was, of course, gracious afterward.

"I don't care if we stole it or they gave it to us, we won," Galloway said.

While rules governing simultaneous catches can be tricky to the uninitiated, veteran officials know all the nuances. In this case, it appears officials communicated information to players accurately and in a manner consistent with the rulebook.

"The official said when two guys get it at the same time, 'I give it to the guy who had it last,' " Chargers safety Rodney Harrison said, according to a Seattle Times report. "Terrance had it last, so I don't understand it."

Shaw skipped postgame interviews that day. He had been ejected from the game for arguing the call with umpire Jeff Rice.

Carry on.