Play of the game: Roughing the passer

A terrible roughing-the-passer penalty on Cullen Jenkins allowed the Seahawks to burn some clock, score a touchdown and make it a two-score game.

The Seattle Seahawks had everything going in their favor during the second half of Monday night's game at snowy Qwest Field. They had momentum on their side, not to mention the fans and the lead.

They didn't need help from the officials.

The key play in the game was a phantom roughing-the-passer penalty on Packers defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins.

Let's go back a few minutes, first. The Packers had just cut Seattle's lead to 27-24, then allowed Nate Burleson to return the ensuing kickoff 45 yards to the 49-yard line. The Packers' kickoff coverage unit, which had performed decently this season, was horrible on Monday. On this return, though, the unit didn't have a chance because of Dave Rayner's line-drive kickoff.

Green Bay's defense was chewed up to the tune of 19 plays for 139 yards and two touchdowns on Seattle's previous two possessions, but this time, the Packers forced the Seahawks into a third-and-9 from midfield.

Jenkins broke free and rushed Hasselbeck up the middle. Hasselbeck unloaded the ball for an incomplete pass. After releasing the ball, Hasselbeck turned his body and ducked to better absorb the impending hit from Jenkins.

Jenkins couldn't have done anything else to avoid a penalty. He didn't hit Hasselbeck late, he didn't hit him in the head, he didn't hit him with his head, he hit him with his arms extended and he didn't drive him violently to the turf.

Jenkins reward? A 15-yard penalty. Seattle's reward? An automatic first down, and the Seahawks parlayed it into an 11-play, 51-yard touchdown drive to take a 34-24 lead with 6:13 remaining in the game.

"I tried to hold up," Jenkins said. "I guess I didn't hold up enough. Obviously, the ref thought it was a penalty."

Had no flag been thrown, the Packers would have had the ball with about 10 minutes remaining and facing only a 27-24 deficit.

That change in circumstances forced Brett Favre to take some chances, and he wound up throwing interceptions on the Packers' next two possessions.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to Send comments to

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