SEATTLE — If K.J. Wright had simply fallen on the loose ball as it bounced, there would be no controversy hanging over the Seahawks.
Instead, the linebacker did as instructed, to make sure the ball didn't end up back in the hands of the Lions on Monday night in the final seconds of Seattle's 13-10 victory over Detroit.
A flag wasn't thrown on Wright for illegal batting after he guided Lions receiver Calvin Johnson's fumble out of the back of the end zone for a touchback, giving Seattle possession.
The call was wrong.
"You can't bat the ball in any direction in the end zone," Dean Blandino, the NFL's vice president for officiating, told NFL Network on Tuesday. "That is a foul."
Had that ruling been made, Blandino said, a penalty of half the distance from the spot would have been assessed, leaving Detroit inches from the goal line. Rule 12, Section 4, Article 1 of the NFL rule book says an illegal bat occurs if "any player bats or punches a loose ball (that has touched the ground) in any direction, if it is in either end zone."
The back judge, Greg Wilson, was well positioned and looking right at the play. So why didn't he make the ruling? Intent, Blandino said. Batting the ball is allowed if it is inadvertent.
"It's a judgment call," Blandino said. "You can't rule on intent."
Johnson had caught a ball from Matthew Stafford and, as he was being tackled, the ball was knocked loose by safety Kam Chancellor.
Yes, the Seahawks received a break. They admitted as much after the win, with coach Pete Carroll saying on his radio show on KIRO-AM in Seattle on Tuesday morning that based on what he understood about the rule, he would have "done the exact same thing," as Wright.
"I didn't know the rule either," Carroll said.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell was terse about the play: "What can you do? You know what I mean. You're not going to cry about it, that's for sure. So we just got to tee it up and go at it again."
Bills: Running back Karlos Williams got a concussion Sunday against the Giants, general manager Doug Whaley said.
Browns: Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden sat out Sunday with a broken finger, coach Mike Pettine said. The league had asked the team to submit a written explanation for Haden's surprising absence against the Chargers after the former Florida standout was listed as probable on the injury report.
Cowboys: Defensive end Greg Hardy returned from a four-game suspension over his role in a domestic violence case, and would only talk about football when he was asked about the case on Tuesday.
Falcons: Wide receiver/returner Devin Hester (turf toe) went on injured reserve-designated and can return Dec. 6 against the Bucs.
Giants: The staph infection that ended tight end Daniel Fells' season is MRSA, Newsday reported.
Rams: Linebacker Alec Ogletree had surgery on his fractured right fibula; a timetable for his return is unknown.