The NFL had a headache on its hands Monday evening as some questionable calls brought down the ire of NFL fans and media during Week 6 Monday Night Football between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. Following the game, head referee Clete Blakeman spoke to a media member to create a pool report.
The head referee can be available after any game, but it is not often news. Monday evening saw a big helmet-to-helmet call against Tracy Walker, and a pair of shaky calls of illegal hands to the face against Trey Flowers. One of them was on a 3rd and 10 that saw Aaron Rodgers sacked and a comeback potentially snuffed out. Instead, the penalty kept it alive and Rodgers and the Packers eventually scored.
Here’s Clete Blakeman’s answers to questions related to all three penalties, via Packers beat writer Rob Demovsky. They
On the helmet-to-helmet contact with Tracy Walker, it appeared he was going for the ball. Does the defensive back have the right to go for the ball? Does that offset any incidental helmet-to-helmet contact?
Blakeman: “That’s a good question, but the reality is, it is a strict liability for a defensive player. In this case, he may be going for the ball and not intending to hit the helmet, but when there’s helmet contact, it is a foul in that situation.”
Even if he had come up with the interception, that doesn’t change the ruling in any way?
Blakeman: “Even if he did impact the helmet and then intercepted the ball, it would still have been a foul.”
On the two hands-to-the-face penalties on Detroit defensive end Trey Flowers. I don’t know if you were the one who actually threw the flag there, but when discussing with the crew, what did you guys see on those calls?
Blakeman: “The umpire threw both of them. The last one was really the only one I’ve discussed with him. Basically, it’s for illegal use of the hands, hands-to-the-face foul. To be a foul, we basically need some forceful contact that’s prolonged to the head and neck area of the defender, So, in his mind he had pinned him back, it was prolonged, and that’s what created the foul.”
You said head or neck area?
Blakeman: “Head or neck area, yes.”