This should add some fuel to the fire from Monday night’s officiating controversy in the Lions-Packers game.
Green Bay left tackle David Bakhtiari says he complained during the game to umpire Jeff Rice Detroit about defensive end Trey Flowers’ use of his hands.
“I went over to the ref,” Bakhtiari said in the postgame locker room, per Packers News. “I said, ‘Hey, are we not calling hands to the face again? Because the past three plays, I’ve been staring at the sky.’ And he’s like, you know, he’s not looking at my side, but I at least made him aware.”
After Bakhtiari says he complained, Flowers was flagged for a pair of controversial illegal-hands-to-the-face penalties that had a significant impact on the outcome of the game that the Packers won, 23-22.
First penalty led to a Packers TD
The first contested penalty negated a fourth-quarter sack on a third-down pass play that would have left the Packers in fourth-and-21. Replay clearly shows that Flowers’ hand was on Bakhtiari’s shoulder pad, not his facemask.
What “hands to the face” looks like— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) October 15, 2019
From a punt to a TD, all because of the refs. Just disgusting. pic.twitter.com/K2ho1fBFEy
Three plays after the penalty resulted in a new set of downs, Aaron Rodgers hit Allen Lazard for a 35-yard touchdown.
Second penalty let Packers run out the clock
Flowers was flagged again for the same penalty later in the quarter in another critical game situation. This time the call came on a third-down incompletion inside the two-minute warning. And this time, like the first, there was no actual hands-to-the-face violation.
The Packers trailed 22-20 and would have been forced to kick a field goal with around 1:36 remaining without the penalty. Instead they ran out the clock with the new set of downs, setting up Mason Crosby for the game-winning kick with no time remaining. The Lions didn’t get the ball back.
“It was hands to the chest initially,” Flowers said after the game. “I was doing it all game. I didn’t know that was a flag to the chest. I didn’t think hands to the chest was a penalty. I thought hands to the face [was a penalty].
“I had him right here to the chest, and the second time I changed it. I don’t think that was a penalty.”
NFL says officials got it wrong
The NFL agreed.
Vice president of operations Troy Vincent said at owners meetings in Florida Tuesday that the second penalty on Flowers wasn’t warranted.
“After you review it — you’ve seen some slo-mos — the foul wasn’t there,” Vincent said.
Fair play by Bakhtiari?
Bakhtiari, of course, found the officials’ assessment on Monday night to be fair.
“I can definitely tell you for a good portion of the game, I was getting my throat punched in, and I was looking up at the sky a fair amount,” Bakhtiari told Packers News. “If you think about it, if your hand is in my throat, you’re probably hitting my facemask, which is pushing my head up in the sky.”
Bakhtiari isn’t right about the calls. But he’s definitely right about his strategy to influence officials. It may have won the Packers a game.
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