Wreck-It Reck: Lions vs NFL officials

The recent NFC Championship game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers ended sourly because of a controversial call on the Packers for pass interference.
It didn’t take long for Packers fans to storm to Twitter and call out the bad officiating, but when I saw this action, it reminded me of something awfully familiar.
It reminded me of our very own Detroit Lions, and their battle against them and the officials. And if you ask any Lions fan, they can say it truly is Detroit versus everybody when it comes to the NFL Officials.
In addition, it has become a joke with me and my family about the bad calls the Lions receive, and it honestly shouldn’t be but it’s not our fault that the Lions deal with corruption in every game they play.
The most recent controversial call made by the officials was in the last week of the 2020 season, in a match against the Minnesota Vikings.
During the 4th quarter of the game, a crucial 4th and goal play was executed perfectly by sacking the quarterback of the Vikings. As it’s a rare sight to see such a perfect play executed, it ended with a penalty flag. The field judge announced the penalty, roughing the passer on the Lions.
Further, into the quarter, the Lions had possession of the ball, and Matt Stafford passed a brilliant ball into the hands of Marvin Jones Jr. but was called back because it appeared that the ball bounced on the ground, even though there wasn’t enough evidence to prove otherwise. These results would give the Vikings a 37-35 win.
Those two calls gave the Lions the loss, but more importantly, the roughing the passer call because the rules don’t seem to line up with the call, and that is what cost them the game.
A Sports Illustrated FanNation article talked to Adrian Hill, the referee that covered that game, and was asked about the call.
“By rule, one of the categories for roughing-the-passer is full body weight, where the tackler lands with his full body weight on the quarterback. That’s the category this play fell into,” Hill said.
Right, what about the official ruling on the book?
According to the 2020 NFL Rulebook, Article 11(b) states that “A rushing defender is prohibited from committing such intimidating and punishing acts as ‘stuffing’ a passer into the ground or unnecessarily wrestling or driving him down after the passer has thrown the ball, even if the rusher makes his initial contact with the passer within the one-step limitation provided for in (a) above.”
Okay, so what was shown on the play was a clear sack, and the player rolling over the quarterback, not planting all of their weight on them in the process.
In addition to that, the quarterback never even threw the ball, he was actually backing up to avoid the sack and tucked the ball into his chest when the sack happened.
Even the commentators of that game didn’t see it. Dean Blandino, Fox NFL’s rules analyst, tried to find the explanation of that call.
“The only thing they could have there is potentially landing on with all or most of the body weight. I just didn’t see any additional punishing act, to me, this just looks like a tackle,” Blandino said.
A person who reads the rulebook for people, and knows what these calls should look like and the reasoning behind it, couldn’t find it in that play, that’s weird.
Hill made it seem like the linebacker laid on the quarterback and flattened him like a pancake, even though there was a clear shoulder roll over him to avoid breaking that rule.
Essentially, what I gathered from that game is that any Detroit Lion player cannot touch a quarterback, or it’s a penalty, and I don’t want that to be a reality for the Lions, but it seems like the NFL Officials have other ideas in mind for them.
This incident didn’t even get past a conversation after the game, and it would be buried by the NFL, and overshadowed by the hype for Playoffs the week after, so why don’t we look at a game that had stirred the world of football.
On October 14, 2019, it was a Monday Night Football game between the Lions and the Packers. This was just before the middle of the season, and everyone would watch the game since it would be the only one on for the night.
The Lions had a small lead over the Packers, and the Packers had possession of the ball. The Packers were attempting to march their way to the end zone, but the Lions defense wasn’t giving in, until after a 3rd down conversion failed, a flag was thrown, personal foul, hands to the face, on the Lions.
A hand to the face call is really simple, if a player has his hands on another player’s face mask or helmet, and doesn’t release immediately, it’s a penalty.
The instant replay showed that Trey Flowers, the defensive end that committed the penalty, had his hand just under the face mask of the offensive lineman, and it appeared that he had his hands on his face, but ultimately didn’t. I looked at it and thought it was a simple error, and got mad at Flowers for that.
The Packers inched closer and closer, and on a failed 4th down play, another flag was thrown; personal foul, hands to the face, on Flowers again.
I was puzzled and angry at the same time, and the instant replay showed that Flowers’s hand was not even close to the Packers face mask or even his helmet.
The commentators said they couldn’t see it, and Booger McFarland called out the bad officiating and added that if we can see the mistakes on the field, then the refs should see them too.
This poor calling would hand the Packers a 23-22 win, Petitions were up to remove a win, removing the officials from the NFL, and a small movement, #LambeauRefs, and Packers fans called out Lions fans, essentially telling the Lions to play better so that the referees shouldn’t matter.
And all of this couldn’t have gone away because all of America was watching, and they needed an answer.
Troy Vincent, the NFL’s Executive Vice President of Football Operations, couldn’t see one of the calls being right.
“There was one that was clear that we support, and there was another that when you look at it, when you review the play, it’s not something that you want to see called, in particular on the pass rush… The foul wasn’t there,” Vincent said.
That incident shocked everyone, but that was business as usual for the Lions, and would eventually be forgotten by everyone, except Lions fans and myself.
So, with the dark memories vented out of my mind, I reflect on that Bucs and Packers game, and I came up with this; This is karma for the Packers. And as a Lions fan, the Packers got what they deserved, and it would be about time that the Packers would lose the same way the Lions did that one Monday Night game, and revenge could not have been any sweeter.
But the Packers should’ve played better, so that the referees shouldn’t have mattered.