The Bizarre Seahawks Penalty That Wasn't, Explained

On November 27, 2022, the Seattle Seahawks hosted the Las Vegas Raiders at home and eventually lost 40-34, as SB Nation reports. In the main, it was a mundane and routine mid-season game between two teams that are going nowhere; the Raiders are 4-7 and are on pace to end the season with a middling record at best, while the Seahawks needed a win to have any chance at making to post-season — a win which they obviously didn't get.

The game was memorable for one incident, however, and it was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it sort of thing: During one play early in the game, the Seahawks had 12 men on the field at the same time. Ordinarily, that's a foul that nets the team a 5-yard penalty, according to NFL Penalties. However, it seems that no one in Seattle that day –—no one on either team or the officiating crew, and apparently none of the fans either — seemed to notice, and no penalty was called.

Darrell Taylor Goofs Up

The penalty-that-wasn't took place in the early moments of the game and, according to Sports Illustrated, apparently wasn't noticed until a Twitter user pointed it out. Specifically, early in the first quarter — with just a few seconds having been ticked off of the clock — Raiders' quarterback Derek Carr threw his first pass of the day, only to have it caught not by his intended receiver but by Seattle safety Quandre Diggs, who intercepted it and then returned it for a few yards.

Seahawks linebacker Darrell Taylor (#52, above) assisted Diggs in the play by getting in front of him and blocking. The only problem was Diggs was on the sidelines when the play began, and NFL rules prevent him from running onto the field while the play is active. That, and his presence on the field, meant that there were 12 men in Seahawks uniform on the field at the same time instead of the customary 11. Had an official noticed, it would have brought a flag.

This would not be the first time that an officiating crew failed to notice a 12th man on the field. Earlier in the 2022-2023 season, according to CBS Sports, the Buffalo Bills at one time had 12 men on the field, and the officiating crew failed to notice. Fortunately, this didn't adversely affect the outcome of the game, as the Vikings went on to win.

The Aftermath

NBC Sports points out that this failure of the officiating crew to recognize a penalty is doubly egregious. That's because the play that invoked the penalty in the first place was a turnover play, and NFL rules require all turnovers to be video reviewed, and the replay officials failed to notice as well. As for Taylor, NBC Sports writer Michael David Smith was prepared to give him a bit of a pass, chalking it up to an excited teammate wanting to join his buddy on the field to celebrate the turnover — except that Taylor actively blocked an opposing player. "It was a bad mistake by Taylor and a bad mistake by the officials," wrote Smith. Sporting News' Kevin Skiver takes a similar view, suggesting that Taylor likely got caught up in the moment, at least at first, but then once he threw a couple of blocks, the "caught up in the moment" excuse failed to continue to hold any water.

Don't expect Taylor or the Seahawks to be punished retroactively, either, as the NFL generally only levies punishment after the fact in the cases of violations of its conduct policy, and this mistake hardly rises to that level.