NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent said officials were incorrect calling Detroit Lions defensive end Trey Flowers for an illegal hands to the face penalty during the Green Bay Packers' game-winning drive Monday night.
Vincent said Flowers' illegal use of hands penalty on the previous drive was correctly called.
"There was one that was clear that we support. And there was the other, when you look at it, when you review the play, not something that you want to see called in particular on the pass rush. One that you can support but the other one, clearly after you review it, you've seen some slo-mos, the foul wasn't there," Vincent told reporters Tuesday.
The Packers twice received automatic first downs when Flowers was called for putting his hand in Green Bay offensive tackle David Bakhtiari's face. The second penalty helped set Green Bay up for a game-winning field goal as time expired. Bakhtiari said he told the officiating crew to be on the alert for Flowers putting his hands in his face.
"I went over to the ref," Bakhtiari said, per Ryan Wood of Packers News. "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."
Replay showed that Packers guard Elgton Jenkins should have been called for illegal hands to the face on the play the penalty was called on Flowers. The loss dropped the Lions to 2-2-1 and last place in the NFC North. Had they been victorious, they would have been in first place at 3-1-1.
Numerous Lions players were angered after the loss, with Flowers saying he "didn't think hands to the chest was a penalty." Safety Tracy Walker said he was "pissed off" about the officiating.
"Extremely pissed off right now," Walker said, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. "It is what it is. Disappointed. Hurt. We had that game. It's going—I'm going to say the same s--t, we should have won it. It is what it is, though. Got to bounce back.
"I feel like we could have had a better game and we was supposed to come victorious with that game but Green Bay came to play. There was some awful, awful calls, but we got to play through that. We got to overcome those, and so we didn't, obviously, and we came up short."
Outcry over penalties reached a fever pitch after the 2019 NFC Championship Game when Rams corner Nickell Robey-Coleman interfered with Saints wideout TommyLee Lewis, only for there to be no call. The NFL implemented a rule for the 2019 season that allows pass interference penalties and no-calls to be challenged. Hands to the face is not a challengeable penalty.