Clete Blakeman and his officiating crew offered their perspective on the two Trey Flowers illegal hands to the face penalties that had an effect on the outcome of the Green Bay Packers 23-22 victory over the Detroit Lions on Monday night. From the broadcast angle, it appeared the Lions defensive end positioned his hand on the Packers offensive lineman's shoulder and not his head. When the official threw the first flag, it turned a sack on third and long into an automatic first down -- the Packers would score a touchdown a few players later. The second called penalty came on Green Bay's final drive and prevented the Lions from getting a chance to get the ball back on offense.
"The umpire threw both of them," Blakeman said in a pool report. "The last one was really the only one I've discussed with him. Basically, it's for illegal use of the hands, hands-to-the-face foul. To be a foul, we basically need some forceful contact that's prolonged to the head and neck area of the defender. So, in his mind he had pinned him back, it was prolonged, and that's what created the foul."
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was able to run the clock out thanks to Flowers' second hands to the face penalty on a third-and-4 with 1:45 left. Rodgers threw an incomplete pass at the Lions' 16-yard line that would have resulted in a 34-yard field goal attempt, leaving the Lions about one minute with a chance to overcome a 23-22 deficit. Instead, Green Bay was given a first down and ran the clock out since Detroit had no timeouts remaining, leading to the winning field goal by Mason Crosby as time expired.
"I didn't think hands to the chest was a penalty," Flowers said after the game, via the Detroit Free Press. "That's part of a move that I do. So nah, I don't think that was a penalty but they did."
Flowers admitted he changed his technique rushing Rodgers to avoid calling called a second time. At the end of the day, it didn't matter.
"I actually changed the position of my hand 'cause it was to the chest initially which is right here," Flowers said, via WXYZ Detroit. "I was doing it all game. I didn't know that was a flag to the chest. So I changed it and he called it again."
The NFL is hoping this latest controversy will go away fast, but we're not so sure the fans in Detroit will move on just like that.