The Green Bay Packers managed to pull off a dramatic comeback victory on Monday night, defeating the Detroit Lions 23-22 on a last-second field goal from Mason Crosby. But after the game, it wasn't Aaron Rodgers usual clutch ways that people were talking about, it was the officiating crew, who had two controversial hands to the face penalty calls against the Lions that all but killed any momentum they had going.
As you can see in the clip above, both hands to the face calls seemed questionable at best, and downright ludicrous at worst. What makes the calls so tough is the timing. The first hands to the face penalty on Lions DE Trey Flowers came after he sacked Rodgers on third-and-10 and the penalty both took away the sack and provided the Pack with an automatic first down. Later in the drive, Rodgers dropped in a great 35-yard touchdown pass to bring Green Bay within two points
The second questionable hands to the face call came on third-and-4 and it was the most costly call of the game. The Packers received another automatic first down and ran down the clock—Detroit was out of timeouts—to set up the eventual game-winning, walk-off field goal from Crosby.
And it didn't take long for many people, everyone from former NFL greats to NFL reporters, to chime in on social media with their thoughts on the officiating that seemingly cost Detroit a crucial win.
Embarrassing— Olin kreutz (@olin_kreutz) October 15, 2019
That complete whiff by the officials took it from punt/Lions ball to long Rodgers touchdown in the blink of an eye.— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) October 15, 2019
NFL refs have never impacted the outcomes of games more negatively than they do now.
In my 11 years involved with the NFL, I’ve never seen worse officiating than this year and it’s not even close.— TJ Lang (@TJLang70) October 15, 2019
The refs called Trey Flowers for hands to the face twice. Neither were correct.— BroBible (@BroBible) October 15, 2019
One gave the Packers a touchdown and the other gave them the game. pic.twitter.com/eGq01y32ra
Oh my god. Booger McFarland destroying the refs for another penalty for hands to the face on Flowers. Incredible. He’d never been called for one in his career. Two tonight. Black swans everywhere as Lions truly get screwed— Bob Wojnowski (@bobwojnowski) October 15, 2019
The referees are destroying the NFL game by game. It’s a shame because of how much work is put in and to have games literally won or loss by bad calls in crucial situations. #sendembacktofootlocker #MNF #NFL— Matt Forte (@MattForte22) October 15, 2019
With the Green Bay win, the Lions moved to last-place in the NFC North, while the Bears now sit 2.5 games back of first place heading into their Week 7 matchup against the New Orleans Saints.
Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center on Monday:
1. Blackhawks are in the win column
The Blackhawks said after morning skate that they weren't going to "freak out" about their 0-2-1 start despite talking all training camp long about how they didn't want to dig a hole in October. Still, Monday felt like a game they had to win going into a three-day break because they have to start generating some positive vibes within the locker room.
And they did just that.
The Blackhawks handed the Oilers their first loss of the season (5-1-0), but more importantly, they're finally in the win column for the 2019-20 campaign.
"We played really well," Corey Crawford said. "I think everyone was going. Guys were coming back to help out defensively, and just a good team effort. The PK was strong, even though we gave up that one [late], it was strong early in the game. Just nice to win the first one."
2. Second period? That's more like it
The Blackhawks have been happy with their first periods this season. They've been mostly happy with their thirds. It's the middle frame that's been their downfall.
The team addressed those struggles as a team the morning of the game, and they certainly responded.
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Blackhawks led in shot attempts (32-8), even-strength scoring chances (16-6), even-strength high danger chances (5-4) and, of course, the goal column (1-0) in the second period. That's more like it.
"That was the message today from the coaches was how much better we need to be in the second," Connor Murphy said. "We showed examples of when we've done that in the past and what it takes. I think we were just better at staying on our toes and we drew some penalties and got on the forecheck quick and kept their goalie from being able to make plays and for them to be able to come up ice."
3. Corey Crawford shines
You could've made a good argument that Robin Lehner should've started this game, especially coming off a solid outing on Saturday and his career numbers against the Oilers (5-1-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average and .943 save percentage). But the coaching staff went with Crawford and it proved to be the correct decision.
Crawford stopped 27 of 28 shots for a save percentage of .964 and faced nine high-danger chances at 5-on-5, none of which found the back of the net. His lone goal against came with 2:11 left in regulation and it was on a 6-on-4 power play for the Oilers. Overall, he was fantastic.
"He looked sharp as ever," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "He was really good. He did make some saves for us. That team has some weapons so they had some opportunities and he was there and just he's under control. It's something I've said about him before, he really gives the team confidence. I thought tonight he was really good."
4. Blackhawks shut down Oilers' top guns
The first line of Leon Draisaitl, Zack Kassian and Connor McDavid went into Monday tied for the most goals scored as a trio. When the three of them are on the ice at 5-on-5, they're controlling 57.1 percent of the shot attempts, 61.2 percent of the scoring chances and 68.8 percent of the high danger chances.
The Blackhawks held them in check. That line had 14 shot attempts for and 20 against at 5-on-5 and were on the ice for 11 scoring chances. The third line of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad did a terrific job of shutting them down.
"They all just got real big motors, big engine," Colliton said of the Saad-Kampf-Kubalik line. "They work and compete and they all bring a little bit different ingredient. ... Pleased with that line."