After the Packers’ thrilling 23-22 win over the Lions on Monday night, the NFL would have preferred the focus Tuesday be on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ comeback.
Instead, it’s on the officials. Again.
There were some clear and obvious mistakes made in the game that tilted the advantage to the Packers. It followed the trend from the weekend in which the officials made a baffling decision to not call a penalty when Travis Kelce was thrown to the ground in the Chiefs’ loss to the Texans, and Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield called out the officials after a loss to the Seahawks.
On Monday night, the officials made two incorrect illegal-use-of-hands penalties on Lions defensive end Trey Flowers that aided the Packers in the fourth quarter. Rodgers had been sacked on a third-down play on the first call. Given new life, the Packers ended up scoring a touchdown on a pass from Rodgers to Allen Lazard.
On the Packers’ next drive, Flowers was again incorrectly flagged on a third-down play that allowed Green Bay to run down the clock and kick the game-winning field goal.
Here are the plays:
Referee Clete Blakeman told a pool reporter that one of the calls was because of prolonged contact with the head and neck, which of course didn’t happen.
That led SB Nation’s Christian D’Andrea to write: “So all we really learned Monday night is that we’ve got a long, long way to go before NFL teams can feel like their best efforts in a season where every play counts won’t go to waste because an umpire can’t tell the difference between someone’s shoulder pads and their facemask.”
Alberto Riveron, the Senior Vice President of Officiating for the NFL, has become a target of scorn.
Colin Cowherd had this to say about Riveron on Monday night:
ESPN’s Pat McAfee said this on Monday morning:
The call in the Chiefs game was even blasted in Boston.
After Michael Hurley of CBS Boston criticized Andy Reid for Sunday’s loss, he wrote: “We can’t move on from K.C. without mentioning Shawn Hochuli’s officiating crew. The crew was … bad. Very bad. ...
(W)hen Kelce was knocked to the ground while running a route, the officials correctly threw a flag for defensive holding. That penalty negated a (Patrick) Mahomes interception. Yet after discussion, the officials ruled that the contact with Kelce occurred after the ball had been thrown, meaning Kelce would have had to have been the intended target for a penalty to have been committed.
“That made sense … except it was totally wrong. The contact happened long before Mahomes threw the ball. (When the coaches’ film is made available for this game, it will not be kind to the crew on this play.) It appeared as though the officials were alerted to the timing of that contact from people in New York, too, which … well, that STINKS.
“Terrible officiating all around. It stunk.”
The officiating even got a rebuke from NFL.com. Jeremy Bergman’s recap of the Packers-Lions game began with this: “On a night when neither team was at its best and points were left on the field, the Packers and Lions needed help from a third party to resolve matters in the fourth quarter: the officials. On the final three drives of Monday night’s contest, questionable calls and non-calls from Clete Blakeman’s crew swung the eventual result of this one.”
Peter Schrager of “Good Morning Football” on the NFL Network said the officiating problem needs to be fixed: