Allen Park — It's not unusual for an NFL player or coach to pull an official aside during the course of a game and ask them to more closely monitor a situation they feel might be an infraction.
That's exactly what happened in the Detroit Lions' loss to the Green Bay Packers, and that interaction led to a pair of game-altering penalties in the final quarter of play.
Green Bay offensive tackle David Bakhtiari acknowledged to local reporters he asked the officials to take a closer look at where Lions defensive tackle Trey Flowers was placing his hands while rushing the passer.
"“I went over to the ref,” Bakhtiari said after Monday night's game, “I said, ‘Hey, are we not calling hands to the face again? Because the past three plays, I’ve been staring at the sky.’ And he’s like, you know, he’s not looking at my side, but I at least made him aware.”
That led to umpire Jeff Rice throwing not one, but two flags on Flowers in the closing quarter, both on third down, with the second allowing the Packers to run off the remaining time off the clock before attempting a game-winning field goal.
In the various replays available, Flowers' hand can be seen sliding off the inside of Bakhtiari shoulder and brushing against the side of the offensive lineman's helmet. According to the league's rule book, that action is an infraction, despite head official Clete Blakeman telling The Detroit News after the game the crew looks for prolonged contact to the head or neck area when flagging a player for illegal use of hands.
On the second call, which all but sealed the outcome, Flowers' hand remained on Bakhtiari's shoulder. NFL vice president of operations Troy Vincent acknowledged the officiating mistake Tuesday at the owner's meetings in Florida.