Criticism of NFL referees overshadowed Monday night's game between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions as players and even one Hall of Famer chimed in on the officiating.
Lions defensive back Tracy Walker was flagged for unnecessary roughness in a play in which he collided with Geronimo Allison's wide receiver Packers. Walker said after the game he was just trying to go for the ball and described the call as "awful" – a word he would use multiple times to describe the officiating.
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"Awful. It was an awful call, "he said, according to ESPN. "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. "
Referee Clete Blakeman explained in the pool report that regardless of intent Walker's helmet-to-helmet contact will always draw a penalty.
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Walker, a second-year safety, expressed his frustrations to reporters with the referees after the Lions' 23-22 loss to the Packers.
"Extremely pissed off right now," Walker said. "It's what it is. Disappointed. Hurt. We had that game. I'm going to say the same thing. We should have won it. It is what it is, though. Got to bounce back."
He added that even though there were some "awful calls" he knew the team had to play through it.
Walker was asked if he cared whether he got fined for his comments, he said he didn't.
"Detroit vs. Everybody, "Walker said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "I'm saying it. Detroit vs. Everybody. It's awful. "
Detroit defensive end Trey Flowers also had trouble with the official as he was flagged twice for illegal use of hands. According to ESPN, he explained exactly what he was doing.
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"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. "
Walker and Flowers 'frustrations were echoed by Barry Sanders' Hall of Fame running back.
"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, "Sanders wrote in a tweet.
Detroit was called for eight penalties for 50 yards. The Packers were also flagged six times for 48 yards.
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"We all know we can't have those penalties, whatever it was that caused them to take place," Lions coach Matt Patricia said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "We'll go back and take a look at it and make sure we're coaching it better, make sure we're doing the right things. Just can't have them. We know how dangerous Aaron Rodgers is and how detrimental those penalties are. "