The Detroit Lions entered Monday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers as small betting underdogs and, before kick-off, that made sense given the venue (Lambeau Field) and the presence of Aaron Rodgers. For the majority of the evening, however, the Lions were the better team on the field and, with less than two minutes remaining, Detroit seemingly secured a stop that would put the team in relatively favorable position, either with an extra possession or with the potential for a missed field goal from Mason Crosby.
On cue, the Lions were undone by a seemingly erroneous “illegal hands to the face” call that gave the Packers a first down and allowed Rodgers and company to set up for what became the game-winning field goal with no time remaining.
With that as the backdrop, legendary running back Barry Sanders wasn’t pleased with the outcome and, frankly, he wasn’t the only one.
That is sickening… the @NFL needs to look at a way to prevent that from happening. Two phantom hands to the face calls really hurts us tonight. Yes, we could have scored TDs, but @Lions played too well to have the game end this way. #DETvsGB @espn
— Barry Sanders (@BarrySanders) October 15, 2019
As Sanders notes, it wasn’t as if Detroit was blameless, settling for five field goals and failing to stop Rodgers at key moments during the contest. Still, this was the second blown call agains the Lions and, given the team’s track record of amazingly frustrating officiating issues in recent years, it is (very) easy to see why one would be baffled and maddened by what happened. Desmond Howard was a bit more forceful in his fury.
The refs need to be investigated. This is horrendous. Check bank accounts. #NoExcuses
— Desmond Howard (@DesmondHoward) October 15, 2019
It has to be said that the Lions likely would be trailing had the call not been made, as Crosby is likely to convert what would have been a 33-yard field goal. Still, Detroit would have then received the ball back and, if nothing else, it would’ve been nice if the Lions had a chance to win the game on the field, rather than encountering the helpless feeling of Jamaal Williams hitting the ground and a pair of kneel-downs to set up the final, three-point play.
Sanders is a legend for what he did on the field but he was also well known for his mild-mannered nature. There is something wild about Sanders jumping into the fray with a pointed criticism like this but, considering the high-profile nature of the Monday night contest and the apparently clear nature of the missed call, it’s also tough to find issue with the sentiment.