Barry Sanders, former Lions QB Orlovsky blast NFL after Lions fall to Packers (and refs)
"Your product is being slowly ruined by a third party that has no consequence to their actions."
That's the message former Detroit Lion quarterback Dan Orlovsky has for the NFL and for the owners of teams after Monday night's debacle in Green Bay.
In case you missed it (or have somehow avoided it for the past 12 hours), the Lions lost 23-22 to the Packers thanks to at least three questionable calls - the last of which gave the Packers a first down with 1:20 left on the clock inside of Lions territory. Green Bay was down by two at the time and kicked the field goal as time expired.
But the calls.
It was the calls that have Lions fans, NFL fans outside of Green Bay, and analysts like Orlovsky fired up.
Orlovsky, an analyst for ESPN, said 'millions of people' are unhappy with the way the games are being officiated. And last night's game was the latest in a string of poorly officiated games.
"America's favorite sport, at times, is becoming unwatchable - because of bad officiating," Orlovsky said. "Your product is being ruined, you need to fix this, now."
Orlovsky said the NFL needs to address this midseason and not wait for 2020 to make improvements.
The Lions had their chances to put this one away and dominated for most of the game. But they settled for five Matt Prater field goals and just one touchdown.
Stafford was 18 of 32 for 265 yards, and Golladay finished with five receptions for 121 yards.
Detroit also recovered two fumbles but was doomed by its inability to get the ball into the end zone.
Still, the penalties called makes it feel like they were beaten by the Packers AND the officials.
The last call may have been the last straw for the Lions. Detroit was out of timeouts and Aaron Rodgers was driving deep. Inside of two minutes, defensive Trey Flowers was rushing Rodgers on third and four and the Lions came up with the stop.
But a flag was down. Flowers had been called for illegal use of hands -a five yard penalty.
It gave the Packers a first down and they kicked the field goal to win the game.
"I actually changed the position of my hand, because it was to the chest initially," Flowers said. "Which is right here. I was doing it all game. I didn't know that was a flag to the chest, so I could change it to [motioning somewhere else on his chest]. They called it again."
It was Flowers' second flag for illegal use of hands, both of which came on third down, both of which came in the fourth quarter, both of which showed on replay, that his hands were not in the lineman's face or neck.
Lions legend Barry Sanders immediately jumped in to criticize the officiating, just moments after the call that gave the Packers the first down.
"That is sickening... the NFL needs to look at a way to prevent that from happening. Two phantom hands to the face calls really hurts us tonight. Yes, we could have scored TDs, but Lions played too well to have the game end this way."
Lions defensive back Tracy Walker, who was called for unnecessary roughness on the first play of the third quarter, said it was just an "awful" call.
Walker was playing the ball when he collided with Packers receiver Geronimo Allison.
"I felt like I went for the ball and [it] just so happened we collided, but I was looking for the ball. It was an awful call by them. It is what it is, though."
Walker said he was trying to intercept the ball but they collided. Referee Clete Blakeman stood by the call in postgame when asked if the defensive back has the right to go for the ball in that case.
"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."
Blakemen also said he talked with the official who threw the illegal use of hands calls against Flowers at the end of the fourth quarter.
"The umpire threw both of them. The last one was really the only one I've discussed with him," Blakeman said. "Basically, it's for illegal use of the 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 ...
"So, in his mind he had pinned him back, it was prolonged, and that's what created the foul."
Walker will likely be fined for his criticism of the officials.
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Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.