Yes, yes, I know. You all are ready to move on from Monday night’s controversial ending between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. I am, too. But there was one final piece to the puzzle that was revealed on Tuesday when Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari spoke with the media.
According to Bakhtiari, Lions defensive end Trey Flowers had been committing illegal hands to the face all game. So at one point, he turned to the officials and complained about it.
“I went over to the ref, I said, ‘Hey, are we not calling hands to the face again? Because the past three plays, I’ve been staring at the sky,’” Bakhtiari recalls. “And he’s like, you know, he’s not looking at my side, but I at least made him aware.”
Now this isn’t necessarily the smoking gun of some wild conspiracy that the Packers and the refs are in cahoots. Players lobbying to refs during a game—and then getting calls in their favor—is a fairly common practice. It’s why Bakhtiari did it, and it was smart of him to do so.
But it’s also important to point out that this moment changed the entire course of the rest of the game. Umpire Jeff Rice was now made hyper aware of this situation, and it very clearly altered his perception of what was actually happening. Rice ended up calling Flowers for illegal hands to the face in back-to-back drives, both in the fourth quarter, both extending Packers drives that had been stopped by Detroit. The NFL has already admitted the second call was bad, and the first one was almost as questionable.
The 10 points that would follow would be just enough for Green Bay to leave with the win.