NFL Vice President of Operations Troy Vincent said at owners meetings Tuesday that the second illegal hands to the face penalty should not have been called against Trey Flowers.
“After you review it, the foul wasn’t there,” Vincent said, according to Bob Glauber of Newsday Sports.
The penalty nullified the Lions’ third down stop, which would have forced the Packers into a a 34-yard field goal to take the lead. But more importantly, it would have allowed the Lions to have around 1:30 left in the game to take back the lead on offense.
Instead, the foul gave the Packers an automatic first down, and the Lions had no timeouts remaining to stop the clock. Green Bay would kick the game-winning 23-yard field goal as time expired.
It’s a bit interesting that Vincent only fessed up to the second hands-to-the-face penalty. On the Lions’ previous defensive drive, Flowers was called for a near identical penalty in a stunningly similar situation. Again, Detroit had forced Green Bay into a fourth down, but the penalty extended the drive and the Packers scored a touchdown three plays later.
In that instance, there is visual evidence that Flowers’ hand does make contact with the offensive lineman’s helmet, but the contact is not prolonged, as the officials stated it was immediately after the game.
Anyways, the Lions will file this pseudo-apology onto the pile of previous identical ones. This wasn’t the first and I’m sure it won’t be the last.