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NFL Refs Explain Controversial Calls Late in Lions’ Loss

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Defensive end Trey Flowers #90 of the Detroit Lions on the bench during the second half of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Lions and Cardinals tied 27-27.

Trey Flowers seemed like he couldn’t believe it when the flags came out against him late in the fourth quarter with the Detroit Lions on the verge of stopping a comeback from the Green Bay Packers in prime time.

The Lions defensive end was already called for illegal hands to the face earlier in the fourth quarter on a play that neutralized Kevin Strong’s drive-killing sack, allowing the Packers to stay alive and score a touchdown that trimmed their deficit to just two points. But the second was just as painful, as the Packers would have needed to kick their go-ahead field goal with 1:36 still remaining on the clock instead of letting the time expire.

The calls seemed to take ESPN broadcasters Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland by surprise as social media quickly filled with outrage. The replay on the first call drew more ire than the second in that many felt it cost the Lions the game by allowing the Packers’ drive to continue.

A pool report interview with NFL referee Clete Blakeman in the postgame shed some more light on the controversial calls, but the insights didn’t exactly do much to alleviate the frustrations. Here is Blakeman’s full response when asked what the crew discussed and saw on the calls:

“The umpire threw both of them. The last one was really the only one I’ve discussed with him. Basically, it’s for illegal use of 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.”

NFL referee Clete Blakeman in Monday night’s referee pool report.

The Lions were subject to several questionable penalties beyond those called on Flowers in their 23-22 loss to the Packers. Controversy also surrounded an unnecessary roughness call on Tracy Walker III for a helmet-to-helmet collision with Geronimo Allison, while pass interference was also not called in a situation that seemed to warrant it late in the game.

Even the legendary Barry Sanders was venting his frustrations after Monday’s game.

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Refs Also Addressed Penalty on Walker

The referee pool report also looked at Walker’s hit on Allison, which knocked the fourth-year Packers wide receiver out of the game and into concussion evaluation.

On the replay, contact was made as Walker went for the interception attempt. Allison’s head came down on top of him at the right moment, making hard contact and leaving him motionless on the field until well after trainers rushed to attend to him.

Blakeman was asked about the play, specifically if Walker had the right to go for the ball or if that offset with incidental helmet-to-helmet contact.

“That’s a good question, but the reality is, it is strict liability for a defensive player,” Blakeman said. “In this case, he may be going for the ball and not intending to hit the helmet, but when there’s helmet contact, it is a foul in that situation.”


Flowers Expresses Doubt About the Calls

Speaking in the postgame with WXYZ Detroit Channel 7, Flowers addressed the call that landed the Lions in such hot water later in a game that started with a 13-0 lead for Detroit. He said the move with his hands that drew the flags was one he’d done all game, and that after the first penalty he actually modified his hand placement in an attempt to correct it.

“I didn’t think hands to the chest was a penalty,” Flowers said.

 

Flowers, though, didn’t sound like he would dwell on the Lions losing a winnable game heading into another tough matchup next week at home against the Minnesota Vikings. When asked what was on his mind, his answer was simple.

“Work. Work. Work,” he said. “I’m ready to get back to work.”

READ NEXT: Packers WR Geronimo Allison Goes Limp After Brutal Hit vs. Lions [WATCH]

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