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Reuters, Published September 25 2012

Angry Packers take to Twitter, air to voice complaints

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Long before the chartered plane carrying the Packers landed in Green Bay about 4 a.m. local time Tuesday, some of their fans were well into starting a protest that carried well into the day outside Lambeau Field.

The great heist of this young and already bizarre NFL season struck the nerves of many directly and indirectly associated with pro football's oldest franchise.

"It sucks losing, and it's even worse when it goes that way," visibly agitated quarterback Aaron Rodgers said in the aftermath of Green Bay's 14-12 loss at the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night.

Instead of taking their redeye flight of 3 hours from the West Coast feeling good about rallying in the second half for a 12-7 victory over the Seahawks, the Packers were fuming well before the wheels of the plane went up at Sea-Tac Airport.

Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson's desperation throw of 24 yards into the end zone on the final play of the game resulted in a game-winning touchdown catch by Golden Tate, instead of an apparent interception by safety M.D. Jennings.

Controversy - and confusion - immediately ensued.

A booth review upheld the fateful touchdown call signaled in the back left corner of the end zone by side judge Lance Easley after Jennings and Tate crashed to the turf with their hands on the football amid a scrum of players. Jennings, a backup summoned to help on the back end to try to thwart Wilson's last-second heave, jumped highest among four fellow defensive backs and two Seahawks receivers to snag the football out of the air with both hands.

Jennings contended afterward he had the interception.

Yet, Easley raised his arms to signal touchdown, while nearby back judge Derrick Rhone-Dunn made a different gesture with his arms as though he was signaling a touchback for the interception in the end zone.

Howard Slavin, the NFL's appointed replay official for the game, stuck with Easley's ruling. To the chagrin of millions across the country, to say nothing of the Packers, the replacement referees had decided the direct outcome of a game only three weeks into the regular season.

A blatant shove by Tate of cornerback Sam Shields in the end zone -- one the NFL said Tuesday should have been called, ending the game -- before the ball thrown by Wilson came down wasn't called.

"They (the NFL) always talk about integrity of the game and having a good brand, and then we put that out there," Green Bay defensive end Ryan Pickett said. "It's tough, man."

Pickett's reaction was considerably tame in comparison to the obscenity-laced comments said and written by teammates.

An on-site TV crew from Green Bay's FOX affiliate, WLUK, caught Rodgers' disputing the ruling on the field with what appeared to be Easley.

"It's awful," Rodgers is heard yelling amid the chaos in the moments following the play.

Rodgers then points in the direction of the official and yells, "If you call that, it's (expletive) awful."

The Packers, who dropped to 1-2, left the field in a huff. That caused a delay of nearly 10 minutes before enough players could return from the locker room, grab helmets from the team's storage crate and get on the field so the Seahawks, by rule, could kick the extra point to officially end the game.

"Just look at the replay," Rodgers lamented in his postgame news conference. "And, then the fact that it was reviewed ... it was awful. That's all I'm going to say about it."

A few teammates took to Twitter to air their grievances before they were airborne in the wee hours of the morning.

"13th man beat us tonight," wrote tight end Tom Crabtree, referring to the Seahawks' notorious "12th Man" crowd advantage at CenturyLink Field.

Starting guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton could be in hot water with the league after they didn't hold back with tweets strewn with R-rated language.

"Got (expletive) by the refs. Embarrassing. Thanks nfl," wrote Lang, who also typed, "(Expletive) it NFL. Fine me and use the money to pay the regular refs."

Sitton's juicy comments included "The nfl needs to come to gb and apologize to us for (expletive) us! These refs r bums!" and "That was (expletive). This is getting ridiculous! The NFL needs to get the (locked-out) refs back bfr we strike and they make no money!"

The league office issued a statement Tuesday pointing out the missed offensive pass interference penalty but did not get deep into the end of the play or the definition of "simultaneous possession."

Sitton told "The Jim Rome Show" on Tuesday that the NFL isn't concerned about players, or player safety, and feels little urgency to end the lockout.

"I don't think they care," he said. "They know the type of business we have and they know fans are going to keep showing up. There needs to be something done. I wish I had an answer. If I could go on strike, I fricking would just to end this crap. I don't know if we can, we probably can't because of the CBA, but I wish there was an answer. I don't think they care, they flat-out don't care."

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy chose his words carefully so as to not criticize the officials, though he alluded to the uproar of a tough Week 3 of calling games for the replacement refs.

"(The) most unusual football game that, I think, I've been a part of," McCarthy said. "I know it's been a wild weekend in the NFL, and I guess we're part of it now."