The head referee is available to a lone pool reporter after each NFL game if there are questions about the application of the rules in a given contest.
Well, there were questions Monday night in Green Bay.
Via the pool report with head referee following Monday night’s game between the Packers and Detroit Lions, head referee Clete Blakeman answered questions about the personal foul call on Tracy Walker on the hit that knocked Geronimo Allison from the game and Trey Flowers‘ two illegal hands to the face penalties in the fourth quarter.
Via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, the Q-and-A is as follows. Also of note, the umpire referenced for the game was Jeff Rice.
(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.”
Walker was not attempting to level a hit on Allison. Instead, he was obviously trying to intercept a pass from Aaron Rodgers that been thrown in front of Allison.
Flowers’ two illegal hands to the face penalties came on third downs that enabled the Packers to score a touchdown to close the gap to 22-20 with nine minutes remaining and the game-winning field goal as time expired.