“That’s a part of the move I do, and yeah, I don’t think its a penalty.” Lions defensive end, Trey Flowers, defended both of the illegal hands to the face penalties called on him on crucial 3rd downs in the 4th quarter. The calls both resulted in Packers first downs, the second ultimately leading to a game winning field goal by Mason Crosby.
If you take a look at the film, Flowers clearly uses his hands to firmly grab the chest of the tackle and use a sort of “bull rush” technique to drive him back. On both occasions, Flowers’ hands never made contact with the face or neck of the tackle. In a 16 game season, where every outing matters, these calls are absolutely inexcusable. The butterfly effect of this is lost jobs, smaller contracts, and in this case, a lost game.
On the other hand, Detroit had multiple red zone trips that resulted in field goals. Giving Aaron Rodgers and first year head coach, Matt LaFleur, nine lives usually results in big trouble. Rodgers was 24/39 with 283 yards, 2 TD’s and a pick. Pretty pedestrian in terms of what Rodgers is capable of, but with the Lions only able to produce one offensive touchdown on the night, it was enough.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was exceptional at creating big plays for Detroit all night, including a flea-flicker to Kenny Golladay on the first play of the evening for a gain of 67 yards. But each time the Lions got close, Green Bay stood strong. Four times throughout the game Detroit settled for field goals. Their last pushed them ahead 22-13 with a little over 12 minutes left in the 4th quarter. From that moment forward, it was the Rodgers show.
Rodgers led a touchdown drive immediately following the aforementioned field goal, while also being bailed out on a 3rd & 10 sack by one of the phantom illegal hands to the face calls on Flowers. Rodgers found Allen Lazard down the left sideline for a touchdown on 3rd & 5. A couple dropped balls by Detroit led to Green Bay getting the ball back now down 22-20. On a crucial 3rd & 4 with 1:45 left in the game, the second of the hands to the face calls materialized to give Green Bay a new set of downs. Which allowed them to bleed the clock and kick the go ahead field goal as time expired.
Fans around the world were flabbergasted at how the pinstripes really decided this game. I think just about any fan of sport would agree, if you’re not certain in the call, just don’t throw the flag. Every fan at home is watching this game for the players, not the regular men with the mics attached to their heads. Detroit needed this game, a win here could have turned their entire season around and catapulted them to an important playoff birth. The Lions franchise has had trouble capitalizing on the talent that is Stafford, but tonight they didn’t waste him. The referees did.