Two phantom hands-to-the-face penalties on Lions pass rusher Trey Flowers marred the Green Bay Packers’ controversial, come-from-behind win over the Detroit Lions on “Monday Night Football,” the latest in a line of high-profile officiating embarrassments for the league.
Flowers, the Lions' prized pass rusher who'd never been flagged for illegal use of hands in four-plus seasons, was called on back to back fourth-quarter possessions. The first, on a third-and-10 negating a sack, set up an Aaron Rodgers-to-Allen Lazard 35-yard scoring strike, and the second was on the final drive, on a third-and-4 red zone incompletion to Jake Kumerow.
Following an eight-yard run during which the Lions attempted to let Jamaal Williams score prior to him giving himself up and a pair of Rodgers kneeldowns, Mason Crosby kicked the 23-yard game-winner as the clock ran out.
On both Flowers penalties, it appears his outstretched arms only engage Packers LT David Bakhtiari’s shoulder pads.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, the officials missed Lions WR Marvin Jones clearly being interfered with on a long incompletion, and turned a Kerryon Johnson fumble on third-and-2 that should’ve resulted in a Lions first down into an incompletion, leading to a 54-yard Matt Prater field goal that kept the Packers within striking distance.
The calls helped the Packers overcome their own self-inflicted errors — including a pair of dropped touchdowns — on a night they began without Davante Adams (turf toe) and lost fellow starting WR Geronimo Allison to a possible brain injury on a helmet-to-helmet hit that was incorrectly called unnecessary roughness.
So the surprisingly competent Lions were robbed by the unsurprisingly incompetent officials.
It's a big problem for the league, whose annual fall meetings just so happen to begin Tuesday in Ft. Lauderdale. What the owners might attempt to do about it is unclear. Remember, the latest rash attempt by the league to improve the woeful officiating in the wake of last year's NFC championship game controversy was adopt replay revision.
How's that working out?