Last Sunday, the Lions played the Vikings in Detroit. If you were to look out at the crowd, you would see many striped shirts. Yes, striped shirts. Like referees. Where were the jerseys? Well, let’s just say that the fans were upset about what the refs had done to their team two weeks ago in a game against the Packers. Let’s review.
Lions defensive end, Trey Flowers, got tagged for two phantom illegal hands-to-the-face penalties. In the first of the two, he was facing off against a longtime Packers rival and offensive tackle, David Bakhtiari. It was the fourth quarter, third down. Flowers was doing his thing, just trying to get any pressure on Aaron Rodgers. Then suddenly, he got flagged. Fans figured he had his hands all over his facemask. But, upon further review, Flowers clearly placed his hands on Bakhtiari’s shoulder pads. Everyone saw this. The fans, the players, the coaches, even the television announcers. But, that didn’t matter. The refs stuck with their call, and the extension of the drive resulted in a Green Bay touchdown, three plays later.
The second occurrence was during the Packers’ final drive of the game. Led by Rodgers, Green Bay was storming down the field. On another third down, Flowers once again dug his hands into the shoulders of Bakhtiari. The only difference on this play was that Bakhtiari tossed his head back, which drew another hands to the face penalty.
The Lions were absolutely furious at both the flop and the call. The penalty extended the drive and allowed Green Bay to milk the clock down and kick a game-winning field goal. The Packers sealed the victory over the hapless Lions, who thought they deserved to win the game.
Reflecting on the game in its entirety, there were certainly steps the Lions could’ve taken to ensure a victory. The Lions kicked four field goals. If those had been touchdowns, they would’ve sealed the victory. Aaron Rodgers also Aaron Rodgers’d, throwing for 283 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
But this wasn’t the only game of 2019 to feature egregious calls. On Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts faced off the Houston Texans. Tony Corrente blew a potential Texan touchdown dead even though starting quarterback Deshaun Watson didn’t have an elbow or a knee down on the turf. He was clearly about to be sacked and was avoiding constant pressure, but he was still able to make an amazing touchdown throw to DeAndre Hopkins. It instead got negated to a nine yard sack by Justin Houston.
When Watson was asked what justification he received from Corrente for the call, he said that Corrente, “was trying to protect my health,” per USA Today. From the officiating angle, it could be understood why Corrente blew the play dead. Quarterbacks always get first dibs on protection from refs—they’re the faces of the NFL. But they are also football players. They need to be allowed to play without interference.
Houston kicked a field goal in the following play. Though they still were able to put points on the board, a touchdown might’ve swayed the momentum enough to drastically change the game’s outcome. Instead, they lost by a score of 30-23 to the Colts.