Green Bay Packers: Two Blown Officiating Calls Nearly Cost Them Win vs. Saints

Luke KrmpotichContributor IISeptember 9, 2011

Two terrible calls by the officials in the last two minutes nearly cost the Green Bay Packers a win against the New Orleans Saints in the first game of the 2011 NFL season.

First, the Packers punted the ball away from near the Saints 40-yard line while leading 42-34. It was a perfect punt by Tim Masthay, and Jarrett Bush appeared to make a catch and down the ball at the half-yard line.

Unfortunately for the Packers, an official erroneously ruled that Bush had gone into the end zone when making the catch. Replays showed, however, that Bush had without a doubt established possession of the ball as his knee made contact with the ground well before his feet came down in the end zone.

The blown call allowed the Saints to start their final drive on the 20-yard line rather than backed up to their own end zone.

Not surprisingly, Drew Brees marched his Saints down the field and had one final shot at potentially tying the game with a touchdown and two-point conversion.

Then, on what should have been the final play of the game, Brees fired into the end zone and linebacker A.J. Hawk made a beautiful play to block the ball from behind intended target Darren Sproles. Hawk never touched the diminutive Sproles as he cleanly dove over the running back from behind and swatted the pigskin out of the air.

But once again, the officials negated a perfect play by a Packers defender. A bogus pass interference call placed the ball at the Packers 1-yard line with no time left on the clock.

Notably, the flag came from the official standing BEHIND Hawk.

From his position, the official had no ability to see whether or not Hawk had made contact with Sproles before touching the ball (replays clearly showed he did not). Significantly, another official, standing in front of Hawk and in perfect position to see everything, threw no flag.

The Packers defense came through in the end, as they stuffed New Orleans rookie running back and Heisman Trophy-winner Mark Ingram, preserving the season-opening 42-34 victory.

It was an impressive triumph over not just the high-octane Saints attack, but also two officiating blunders which gratuitously handed the Saints, on a golden platter, a chance to send the game into overtime.