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Controversial Referee Call Helped Green Bay Win Monday Night Football


The NFL admits that officials made a mistake. It happened during Monday night's game between Detroit and Green Bay. Referees made a call that helped Green Bay win. It's the latest officiating kerfuffle this season that has frustrated players and fans. But what can be done? Here's NPR's Tom Goldman.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Monday night, Detroit Lions defensive lineman Trey Flowers was penalized twice for illegal hands to the face. Replays showed his hands were locked on his opponent's shoulder pads, not the face. ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst Booger McFarland reacted strongly, especially after the second penalty was called late in the game.


ANTHONY MCFARLAND: And he shouldn't have been called tonight. Let's make sure we let America know that That's twice. The first time it cost them a sack; this time it cost them the game.

GOLDMAN: America got the message, tweeting lots of angry stuff about the NFL and officials. That's been a thing, really, since last season's NFC championship game, when the New Orleans Saints were the aggrieved party after an obviously blown no-call by the refs. What to do? There have been discussions about placing a so-called sky judge in each stadium, an official high above the field watching on TV like the rest of us.

JUDY BATTISTA: Coaches like the idea of sky judges. You have somebody in the stadium who has final authority.

GOLDMAN: But's Judy Battista says there's also concern that sky judges would weaken officiating on the field and not be consistent from stadium to stadium. Calling NFL games is hard. The action is high-speed, and officials don't have the luxury of watching on high-def TVs with endless replays and multiple camera angles. But Battista says recent retirements by experienced officials have had an impact.

BATTISTA: There's no question that inexperience plays a role in some of this.

GOLDMAN: The NFL is aware of the officiating issues. But there's also a strong belief, repeated often, that mistakes will happen in a game officiated by human beings - true, but little solace to sad and angry Detroit Lions fans.

Tom Goldman, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF EDO.G'S "SITUATIONS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Tom Goldman
Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on