One can only imagine what was going through umpire Jeff Rice’s head when he made a pair of phantom calls which decided Monday’s game.
But it’s possible that Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari‘s words were still ringing in his ears.
Via Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Bakhtiari admitted lobbying Rice prior to the calls, frustrated with Lions defensive end Trey Flowers pushing him in the greater head-and-neck region.
“I went over to the ref,” Bakhtiari said. “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.”
He clearly was, as Flowers was called for a pair of illegal-hands-to-the-face penalties that helped the Packers come back for the win. There might have been contact at some point in the night, if not on those particular plays.
“I can definitely tell you,” Bakhtiari said, “for a good portion of the game, I was getting my throat punched in, and I was looking up at the sky a fair amount. If you think about it, if your hand is in my throat, you’re probably hitting my facemask, which is pushing my head up in the sky.”
As expected, Flowers had a different read on the situation, though maybe he should have spent more time pleading with officials in advance.