In the first of three Thanksgiving games, the Green Bay Packers' 27-15 win over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field, the biggest story of all may have been the officiating from Terry McAulay's crew. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy told Fox Sports' Pam Oliver at the half that he had scouted McAulay's games and knew that he threw a lot of flags, but that wasn't really the problem in this game.
The problem in this game was the inconsistent and haphazard way in which penalties were called. There were a total of 18 penalties — 11 on the Lions and seven on the Packers — and on at least half of those, there could be a solid argument against them.
Everyone's going to want to talk about Ndamukong Suh's ejection, but that was one of the few things this crew actually got half-right. And even on that play, the crew missed the fact that Suh was reacting to guard Evan Dietrich-Smith dragging him to the ground and mugging him there. Suh's reaction was totally uncalled for and he deserved to be booted from the game, but he wasn't the first player ejected in this contest, and the first guy had a much better argument.
With seconds left in the first half, Packers cornerback Pat Lee was thrown out of the game after throwing a punch in the vicinity of Detroit cornerback Aaron Berry. But when you watch what Lee's dealing with before the punch — he's being mugged by two Lions players for several seconds — it's amazing that the officials didn't throw offsetting fouls at the very least. If you want to eject Lee for taking a swing, fair enough, but it wasn't as if Lee's anger was unwarranted. It was one example of McAulay's crew losing control of the situation, and the last guy to take a shot paid for it.
And in a more inexplicable example of allegedly "illegal" behavior, there's this hit from Lions defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch on Packers Aaron Rodgers, also near the end of the second quarter. This roughing the passer call negated an offensive pass interference call on receiver Greg Jennings and gave the Packers the ball back at their own 37-yard line with 51 seconds left in the half.
Take a good look at the play, and tell us where YOU see anything remotely approaching roughing the passer. Vanden Bosch leaves the ground as Rodgers releases the ball, and as Troy Aikman points out, the hit wasn't even to Rodgers' head -- Vanden Bosch clearly tried to make it a clean hit by going under the neck.
Add in one really terrible missed pass interference call and an equally terrible makeup call on Detroit's Eric Wright soon after, and this is one of those games that will make some NFL fans wish that the grading process for officials was made public.