Packers' Finley: 'We finally beat (the refs)'
SEP 30, 2012 10:30p ET
It was just six days earlier that the final play of Green Bay's Monday night loss in Seattle became the infamous moment that seemingly ended the error-filled run of the replacement referees.
On Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, even with the regular referees back on the field, the Packers had to overcome officiating mistakes yet again. This time, however, they didn't let it cost them a win.
"I guess we finally beat 'em tonight, and that's the referees," tight end Jermichael Finley said. "We just can't bow down and get in the referees' game, the game they want to play. We can't worry about what they're calling or what they're doing over there."
When the regular referees first stepped onto Lambeau Field before the game, fans gave them a rousing ovation. At the pre-game coin toss, head referee Jeff Triplette excitedly said: "It's good to be back, gentlemen," followed by several friendly exchanges with Packers players.
By the end of Green Bay's 28-27 victory, the referees had gotten booed as loudly as any crowd of 70,000-plus people could ever show their vocal disapproval of an officiating crew. And Packers players weren't thrilled with them, either.
"We can't sit on the sideline and boo, so that's what the fans are for, to get into it, make it nice and loud in there (and) boo them so hopefully we get a call on our side," wide receiver James Jones said. "Everybody saw it. Obviously they missed a couple calls."
Early in the third quarter, Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw a third-down pass to tight end Jimmy Graham, who seemed to not make the catch from his knees due to the ball appearing to touch the ground. The initial ruling on the field was a reception for Graham, leading Packers coach Mike McCarthy to challenge. After a lengthy delay and replays showing what looked like an incomplete pass, Triplette announced that the call on the field was upheld.
McCarthy looked absolutely dumbfounded on the sideline that the call wasn't overturned, with Triplette walking over to explain how he came to his conclusion. After the game, McCarthy said he was "disappointed" with that ruling.
Then, midway through the fourth quarter, with Green Bay up by one, speedy New Orleans return man Darren Sproles was clearly stripped of the ball on a kick return, but the side judge ruled down by contact. Both teams still fought for the loose ball, with Packers linebacker Dezman Moses -- who caused the fumble -- coming out of the pile with it.
McCarthy was out of challenges, but even had he not been, the consensus is that it was not a reviewable play. According to a tweet from former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira, who's now an analyst with FOX Sports, "that wouldn't have been overturned but it doesn't excuse the fact it was a bad call."
But that doesn't make Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji feel any better, especially not so soon after what happened on their game-deciding play in Seattle.
"I was actually right there (and) I was going crazy, like most of the stadium," Raji said of the referee's ruling that it was not a fumble. "It was unfortunate that (it happened on) a clear call like that. Everyone has to answer to somebody, so I'm guessing, hopefully they have to answer to somebody."
Raji later added: "I guess I can give these guys a break. It's been a while since they reffed."
Unlike Monday's game, the Packers had time left on the clock to overcome the missed call, which they did successfully by forcing the Saints to attempt a 48-yard field goal, a kick that was missed.
"It was almost a 'not again' moment," linebacker Clay Matthews said. "Fortunately, we were able to make the plays when we needed to. That kind of seemed to be the theme today. Hopefully some of those calls will start coming our way."
The end result is Green Bay improving to 2-2, sending New Orleans to an 0-4 start, and avoiding the possibility of missed calls turning into yet another questionable loss.
"I think 1-3 would have been very difficult," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "When you start having consecutive losses, you can't help but having that thinking of, 'Here we go again' at times. Unfortunately, there was a little bit of that tonight with some of the calls, but we were able to overcome it.
"I think it says a lot about the character of this team. This was an important win for us."
Follow Paul Imig on Twitter.
+ SHOW COMMENTS +