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Revisiting The Golden Fleece: How should Seattle feel?

By Danny O’Neil

It is the highlight that punctuates any depiction of Seattle’s 2012 season, receiver Golden Tate going up in the corner of the end zone in prime time and a referee declaring touchdown after he landed.

Is it an exclamation point or a question mark, though?

The uncertainty remains a year later, something brought to the forefront by the fact that the Seahawks travel to Green Bay this week for their most important preseason game of 2013.

The dispute over Golden Tate’s touchdown catch against the Packers last season is again at the forefront this week with Seattle traveling to Green Bay for a preseason game. (AP)

Never has a referee’s decision antagonized a country like that call did in Week 3 last year. It enraged the nation, resulted in the end of the lockout of the NFL’s regular officials, produced a result that is viewed with suspicion in 48 of 50 states and still elicits outright hostility in Wisconsin.

But how do we feel about it here in Seattle?

It’s an honest question. Because that play was the embodiment of coach Pete Carroll’s edict that you fight until the very last second of a game and then let the officials sort it out. But it was also a play in which most of the country feels Seattle benefited from sub-par officiating.

How do we feel about?

Was it the top goosebumps moment in a season in which the Seahawks unexpectedly wound up less than half a minute playing for the conference championship? Or was it a moment that you certainly don’t apologize for, but don’t exactly brag about given the circumstances?

It was the most memorable play of Seattle’s 2012 season, but was it the one you want as the embodiment of that year?

One year later, how do we make sense of it?

“Stuff happens,” Carroll said. “And it doesn’t always work out exactly the way you see it the second or third time. That’s been happening for years. It’s just unfortunate for their side they came out on the short end of that deal, but it shows you the human aspect. It happened to show us the replacement human aspect of it all as well.”

One play decided the game, and the official – a replacement official as it were – made a decision.

“The guy looked on the ground, and he saw that both guys had the ball so he gave him (Tate) a touchdown,” Carroll said. “I don’t know what another official would have said. Another official might have caught the push.”

Only someone with cheese curds for a brain would think that Seattle did anything wrong. Tate jumped up, competed for the ball and got one hand on it while the Packers’ M.D. Jennings had two. If the officials happened to award the Seahawks a touchdown, well, there have been worse decisions made in the annals of NFL football unless you conveniently forget Super Bowl XL.

It was a touchdown. The official raised his hands, it counted in the standings, and as many times as Tate has been questioned or ridiculed about it, the result stands.

“I definitely would see that was a game-winning touchdown right there,” Tate said. “I don’t care what you think or what they think – it was a catch, or no catch. It was. It is what it is. The referee called a touchdown. I did my job. Point blank. End of story. So I see it as a highlight. It was a big play in a critical moment and it helped us win the game.”

But what do you think?

This isn’t about the legitimacy of the result – that is indisputable at this point. Seattle would have reached the postseason even if that game went down as a loss, and the Packers had their own chance to win home-field advantage in the playoffs but lost their regular-season finale. This is a question about how we feel as a city when that highlight is played. Is it a point of pride, something to relish? Or is there another play from last season that we cherish more?

Is it an exclamation point or a question mark? It’s an honest question. What’s your answer, Seattle?