In case you missed it, the Detroit Lions were hosed again by the referees on Monday night against the Green Bay Packers. Multiple bad calls and missed calls ended up costing the Lions a victory and a seat at top of the standings in the NFC North.
Two of the awful penalties came in the fourth quarter when Lions DL Trey Flowers was flagged not once, but twice for hands-to-the-face. The problem is, Flowers’ hands were clearly in a legal position and neither penalty should have been called.
But according to a report from the Detroit Free Press, the calls on Flowers were both set up by a conversation Packers’ OL David Bakhtiari had with umpire Jeff Rice just prior. In fact, from the sounds of it, Bakhtiari was pretty much begging for a call.
From Detroit Free Press:
“I went over to the ref,” Bakhtiari recalled in a corner of the Packers locker room, before slipping out into the night after his team’s 23-22 comeback win Monday, “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.”
Flowers insists that what he was doing with his hands is something he had been doing the entire game.
“It was hands to the chest initially,” Flowers said. “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.”
Referee Clete Blakeman acknowledged he had spoken with Rice about the second penalty. In Rice’s mind, Blakeman said, Flowers had prolonged contact to Bakhtiari’s neck and face area — something replay shows did not happen.
“I can definitely tell you,” Bakhtiari said, “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. 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.”
Now, talking to the officials to try and get a penalty is something veteran players will do all the time but that does not mean the official can just call phantom penalties.