The Green Bay Packers may be the sacrificial lambs that will bring back the NFL's regular referees.
In the final play of their game with the Seattle Seahwawks Monday, the Packers' M.D. Jennings appeared to clearly intercept a hail-Mary pass in the end zone, even as the Seahawks' Golden Tate fought him for control of it. But the referees called it a touchdown for Seattle, giving the Seahawks a 14-12 win.
And with that, football fans and players alike exploded in outrage at what was widely considered one of the worst calls in NFL history. It couldn't have come at a worse time for the league: NFL games have been officiated by fill-in referees this season, including from college and arena-league football. The league locked out its regular referees when they couldn't come to an agreement over collective bargaining.
Monday's call was widely seen as a moment that could force the NFL to fold and bring back its regular refs to preserve the integrity of the game.
"I've never seen anything like that in all my years in football," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. He wasn't exactly neutral on the subject, but plenty of people agreed with him.
"These games are a joke," tweeted NFL Hall of Famer Troy Aikman.
Added the Atlanta Falcons' Tony Gonzales: "How do you miss that? Pop Warner refs would have gotten that right."
Wrote the Los Angeles Times' Bill Plaschke: "Three weeks of gross incompetence by unqualified replacement officials crystallized in two moments Monday night that pushed the league's integrity to the brink."
NBA stars couldn't resist weighing in, either.
"These replacement refs gotta go man!! Packers just got game took from them. I LOVE NFL football to much to see this type of work," tweeted the NBA's LeBron James.
Dirk Nowitzski wasn't impressed, either. "Not gonna watch another NFL game until real refs r back," he said. "What a farce."
Watch the call: