Monday night, the Detroit Lions and pass rusher Trey Flowers were penalized twice for "hands to the face." One of these incidents resulted in an extra 15 yards for the Green Bay Packers and led to a touchdown. The second, which was viewed as more controversial, set Green Bay up for the game-winning field goal. The NFL has since responded, saying that one of the calls was, in fact, incorrect.
Tuesday afternoon, the Competition Committee met in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the annual league meetings. During the opening day, NFL executive Troy Vincent held a press conference and answered questions from reporters about the controversial plays from Monday night. He responded to questions about the game by saying, "After you review it, the foul wasn’t there."
Per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Vincent is expected to reach out to Lions owner Martha Ford, as well as general manager Bob Quinn to discuss the penalties in question.
From NFL’s competition committee: Rich McKay will reserve judgment on PI review until end of season, as with most new rules. Calls it a ‘subjective world.’ Troy Vincent says Trey Flowers’ second illegal hands penalty is “not something you want to see called.” pic.twitter.com/l6QGFsuIIt— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) October 15, 2019
Entering the league meetings, the various rules were expected to be discussed during this two-day event, with a specific focus on the recently-changed pass interference challenge rule. However, Monday's game altered the conversation and put extra emphasis on what counts as "hands to the face" and should be met with the 15-yard penalty.
According to the NFL's rulebook, "hands to the face" is a foul if the player "thrusts his hand forward above the frame of an opponent to contact him on the head, neck, or face." If the defender is committing the penalty, this brings about a 15-yard penalty. However, there is also a note in the rule book that says, "Contact in close-line play that is not direct and forcible is not a foul."
Obviously, admitting that the second penalty, which led to the game-winning kick, was not actually correct won't affect the outcome of the NFC North battle. The Lions still lost and have to deal with a far more difficult path to the playoffs.
Instead of sitting in first place in the division with a 3-1-1 record, the Lions will instead be relegated to last place at 2-2-1. Fighting their way back into contention for the division title only becomes far more difficult with this most recent loss.
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