The Green Bay Packers edged the Detroit Lions on Monday night to improve to 5-1 and remain atop a crowded NFC North race, but the officiating of the Week 6 finale has sparked more conversation than anything Aaron Rodgers or Mason Crosby did at Lambeau Field.
It's never fair to fully blame the officials for the outcome of a game. Take Monday night, for example. Had Detroit actually finished more of its offensive drives and built off early passing momentum from Matthew Stafford, the Lions might not have made kicker Matt Prater their unofficial MVP in a losing effort against the Packers. We all know touchdowns are better than field goals, and Matt Patricia's club settled for a bunch of the latter, all while failing to establish any semblance of a ground game.
And yet to ignore the controversial calls littered throughout Monday night's matchup, particularly toward the conclusion of a Packers victory that sent Detroit all the way to the bottom of the North, would be to ignore one of the game's biggest talking points.
There was some controversial officiating in Lions-Packers and there's a lot to go over. Fortunately Will Brinson, John Breech, Ryan Wilson and Sean Wagner-McGough are here to break everything down on the latest episode of the Pick Six Podcast. Listen to the full show below and be sure to subscribe right here.
Green Bay appeared to get away with some debatable penalties in the lead-up to its comeback, including an apparent pass interference on Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones that went uncalled.
Honestly one of the more obvious pass interference calls you will ever see and they didn't even consider a flag. pic.twitter.com/B4e577eDgl— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) October 15, 2019
No officiating decisions were more notable, however, than a pair of fourth-quarter hands-to-the-face calls against Lions pass rusher Trey Flowers. With Detroit up 22-13 and Rodgers attempting to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, the defensive end was flagged on a would-be drive-killing sack to set up a Packers touchdown that cut the Lions' advantage to 22-20. Flowers was called for the same penalty on a play that helped set of Mason Crosby's field goal to seal the Packers' victory -- all this despite never appearing to make contact with Green Bay left tackle David Bahktiari's face, but rather hitting his shoulder pads.
Some camera angles even showed a Packers lineman -- instead of Flowers -- using hands to the face on the flagged plays.
Looks like there was an illegal hands to the face on one of those Trey Flowers plays... but it was on the Packers #Packers #Lions #MNF pic.twitter.com/Z4IZZRYkWi— John Breech (@johnbreech) October 15, 2019
If anything, Packers LT David Bakhtiari had HIS hands in Trey Flowers' face on these two plays #DETvsGB pic.twitter.com/exnuYckIJK— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) October 15, 2019
Lions and NFL legend Barry Sanders, like many of the fans who expressed their displeasure with the questionable calls, voiced his displeasure on social media near the end of Monday night's game.
That is sickening... the @NFL needs to look at a way to prevent that from happening. Two phantom hands to the face calls really hurts us tonight. Yes, we could have scored TDs, but @Lions played too well to have the game end this way. #DETvsGB @espn— Barry Sanders (@BarrySanders) October 15, 2019
Nothing will change the fact the Lions are now 2-2-1 and behind the other three teams in the NFC North after Monday's loss. Nothing will change the fact the Packers are now primed for a return to the playoffs. But maybe, just maybe, the bright lights of another prime-time officiating controversy will prompt a response -- if not action -- from the league level regarding the officials that witnessed and influenced Monday's critical result.