The controversy surrounding the NFL’s refereeing corps has only grown since the Thursday Night Football inter-division showdown between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions. In the final play of the game as the clock timed out, Lions’ defensive end Devin Taylor was flagged for a facemask on Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The results of the penalty not only advanced the Packers 15 yards up the field, but it presented them with one last shot at a touchdown for the win, which they earned with Rodgers’ successful Hail Mary pass, caught by tight end Richard Rodgers.
“It’s whatever the refs call,” said Taylor after the game. “I can’t control whatever they decide. I can just play ball, keep going…I didn’t believe I touched it.”
As stated in the official NFL rulebook, the definition of a facemask is twisting, turning, or pulling the mask, which is why this particular call is causing so much controversy: did Taylor actually turn, twist, or pull at Rodgers’ mask? From countless views of the instant replay, it appears as though Taylor merely grazed the facemask itself, which by definition wouldn’t warrant an actual facemask call.
“It was a face mask,” said Rodgers. “I was looking for the flag afterwards. I don’t really flop any calls. That was a legit face mask.”
Obviously these two teams will stand divided over the call, but there’s no denying that the officials hugely helped the outcome of the game, as the Packers now stand tied for first against the Minnesota Vikings within the NFC North, as a result of their Thursday night win.
“We’ve been on the flip side of that. We know that feeling … I’m out of breath,” Rodgers said. “It was the most amazing game of my life, to be a part of that, to never give up. I got face masked on the last play. I knew we were about at the 40. Guys gave me enough time, I just tried to get it in the end zone there, I can’t believe Richard caught it.”