What game, incident or team inspired the NFL to adopt instant replay?
The day was Dec. 6, 1998 at the Meadowlands. The Seahawks stopped quarterback Vinny Testaverde of the New York Jets about half-yard shy of a touchdown.
Head linesman Earnie Frantz signaled TD. Referee Phil Luckett, without the benefit of instant replay that was seen by millions on TV, allowed the call to stand. Because of the play, the Seahawks lost 32-31. They would go on to win two of their final three games, but the 8-8 finish left them a game shy of making AFC West postseason. (Today that record seems majestic relative to their NFC West title. But that’s another story.)
After that season, the Seahawks fired head coach Dennis Erickson and replaced him with Mike Holmgren, who would take the Seahawks to the postseason six times in his 10 years, including a Super Bowl appearance following the 2005 season. But the error that took down the Seahawks and Erickson helped swing the NFL rules committee to adopt instant replay.
So if anyone complains to you about the cheapness of the Seahawks’ current entry into the playoffs, you may tell that ignorant fool that the NFL has owed one to Seattle for long time. And you don’t even need to get into Super Bowl XL.