We live in a world filled with conspiracy theories, but they don’t usually infiltrate the NFL.
Well, that has changed.
The play in question was a 4th and 9 play in the fourth quarter with 8:21 left to play.
Rogers threw a pass.
Robert Tonyan, the Packers TE, was the intended receiver.
Anthony Harris, S, was covering Tonyan.
The pass was incomplete.
One official threw a penalty flag, apparently intending to call pass interference.
Then, he picked up the flag and declared that no penalty occurred on the play.
“From my vantage point, it wasn’t even close…It didn’t seem like a tough call to me,” Aaron Rodgers on this play: pic.twitter.com/k1OKvNhboF
— The Packers Wire (@ThePackersWire) November 2, 2020
“It actually helped that the ball fluttered up in the air a little bit because it threw off the timing slightly and (Harris) got there clearly early.”
Then, Rodgers’ shared his conspiracy theory that league officials in New York told the official to pick up the flag.
“I know there’s times where — they probably won’t admit it — but New York is looking at some of these plays and telling them whether or not it was pass interference, or whatever the penalty is.”
As an aside, maybe this is what Rodgers is referring to.
In 2019, the NFL dabbled with the concept of pass interference being reviewable by instant replay but then abandoned the idea.
The field officials have complete authority to make the call; no one is in their ears telling them what to do.
Coach LeFleur’s Comments:
LeFleur said a clear explanation was not provided as to why the flag was picked up.
“The explanation I got was that they talked about it and they decided it wasn’t pass interference. So, I gotta go back and look at it. It sure looked, when I was out there, that it was PI. But again, I haven’t seen many replays, so I really don’t know.”
Significance Of The No-Call In This Game
The reason this no-call is getting a lot of attention is because it potentially changed the course of the game.
Green Bay was down by 14 points at the time and were on the Vikings’ 20-yard line threatening to put at least 3 if not 7 points on the board.
Minnesota took over the ball after the failed 4th down play.
The Vikings ended up going three and out and punting, but they took about 2:30 off the clock in the process.
During the ensuing possession, the Packers scored a TD and two-point conversion.
But they ran out of time to score any more points.
Had they scored on the pass interference no-call possession, the game could have had a decidedly different result.
Was It Pass Interference?
The fact that Harris was not playing the ball and was headed directly for Tonyan is one criteria for pass interference.
Another criteria is Harris’s hands wrapped around Tonyan.
The FOX officiating analyst, Dean Blandino, immediately disagreed with the flag being picked up.
Ex-NFL head of officials Dean Blandino says on @NFLonFOX of PI flag being picked up, "Very surprised. Looked like a penalty to me. … (He) makes contact with the receiver's hands clearly before ball arrives. To me that's clearly pass interference and the flag has to stay down."
— Jason Wilde (@jasonjwilde) November 1, 2020
Hopefully officiating (or lack thereof) does not play a role in any other Packers’ games this season so that everyone can move on from this incident which does appear to be an officiating error but not for the reason Aaron Rodgers believes.