Flag Daze: Questionable Calls Dogging Packers

A review of the tape shows that several of the 13 penalties called against Green Bay were judgment calls that went against the Packers. Through five games, the Packers have been flagged 43 times compared to 30 for their opponents.

That Al Davis says the darnedest things.

Like when he accused the NFL's officials of holding an anti-Raiders bias.

To say the officials are holding an anti-Packers bias would be absurd — Green Bay's front office never has sued the NFL, after all — but it seems like any and every judgment call is going against Green Bay.

Five of the Packers' 13 penalties on Sunday against Detroit were pre-snap penalties. Four were on Chad Clifton, two for false starts and two for lining up off the line of scrimmage. The false starts (Josh Sitton had one, as well) are inexcusable, especially at a home game, but Clifton said he wasn't lining up any differently on Sunday than he has for the previous nine years of his career.

Several of the other eight penalties were questionable, at best, and unlucky, at worst. Taking them, in order:

— On the opening kickoff, Evan Dietrich-Smith's holding penalty wiped out a 99-yard touchdown return by Jordy Nelson. After the game, Dietrich-Smith said he was not guilty. On Monday, coach Mike McCarthy and special teams coordinator said Dietrich-Smith was guilty.

"It's clear but it's close," Slocum said. "It could have not been called just as easily as it was."

The replay showed Dietrich-Smith had a clean block until the last moment, when the Lions player tried to close the lane that Nelson was running through. With the defender moving to his right, Dietrich-Smith's hands moved from inside the numbers to grasping at the defender's shoulder.

"If I feel a guy about to get out of the frame of my body, I've got to let go," Slocum said.

— On the second drive of the game, Daryn Colledge was flagged for unnecessary roughness after blasting Julian Peterson, who was one of several players swarming Donald Driver at the end of a reception. Making the call even more dubious, Detroit's Landon Cohen joined his teammates in driving back Driver after Colledge smashed Peterson. If Colledge was flagged, so too should have been Cohen.

— On a punt late in the first quarter, Desmond Bishop was hit with a 15-yard face-mask penalty after tussling with DeAndre Levy. It was an easy call, but one that Slocum didn't sound too upset about.

"It's in the middle of a fight and his hand goes up and gets the guy's face mask," Slocum said. "You can't do it but it happened."

— With the Lions punting early in the second quarter, Michael Montgomery was called for holding at the line of scrimmage. This was a ticky-tack call. The replay showed Montgomery hitting the center, then bouncing off to hit the left guard, Levy. Montgomery reached for Levy then pulled his arm back. When Levy tripped over Montgomery's feet, a penalty was called.

"It just looked bad, so they threw the flag on him," Slocum said.

— On Detroit's first drive of the third quarter, Tramon Williams was called for illegal contact on a third-down pass. Cornerbacks are allowed to chuck a receiver in the first 5 yards. The ball was snapped at the 20; Williams chucked the receiver at the 26.

"You could call that probably every down," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said.

— On the kickoff after the Packers took a 26-0 lead in the third quarter, Brady Poppinga was called for an illegal block. Poppinga tripped and fell into the legs of one of the Lions.

"I don't know what I can do about that except maybe tell him to stay on his feet," Slocum said with a laugh.

— About 5 minutes into the fourth quarter, Nick Barnett demolished rookie running back Aaron Brown on a blitz and sacked Drew Stanton. Barnett reached for Stanton and got him by the face mask, resulting in a 15-yard penalty.

"It was an aggressive play," Capers said. "You always caution guys. You don't want a guy to grab a face mask and cost you getting off the field. Now, he has a really fine rush on that and he was making a quick move and reached out to grab the quarterback, and I think it was an inadvertent thing where he got the face mask."

— With about 4 minutes remaining, Driver wiped out Cohen at the end of an Aaron Rodgers scramble. Unless Driver had eyes in the back of his head, he wouldn't have seen Rodgers' slide. Either way, Rodgers' slide and Driver's block came a split-second apart.

Through five games, the Packers have been penalized 43 times for 359 yards compared to 30 times for 215 yards for their opponents. Only Cincinnati, with 13 penalties to the Packers' 11, was flagged more in a game. In the Minnesota game, the Packers were flagged seven times for 57 yards compared to two for 10 for the Vikings. Minnesota could have been called for holding on three consecutive plays early in the second half, including a blatant one when a lineman had handfuls of Nick Collins' jersey.

Asked if he thought the Packers were being singled out, Slocum said: "I don't know. That would be pure speculation on my part. All I know is that it's frustrating for all of us involved, particularly we return for a touchdown and there's a holding penalty on it. We have to play within the rules and play without penalties. That's got to be the mind-set, but on the other hand, there are a lot of good things that are going on. Penalties are part of the game. We're not going to spend all week talking about penalties. We're going to talk about doing things the right way and part of that is playing within the rules."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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