Nothing in an NFL game happens in a vacuum, including penalties.
Players and coaches on both teams consciously lobby referees for calls before the game even starts. Heck, some coaches have used press conferences in the week leading up to a game to attempt to make officials aware of certain things. During the game, the politicking intensifies.
And so it was in Monday night's Green Bay-Detroit tussle, in which two illegal hands to the face penalties against Lions pass rusher Trey Flowers set up the Packers to win the game, 23-22. The man who drew those penalties, left tackle David Bakhtiari, said he made the refs aware of the situation before the flags flew.
"I went over to the ref," Bakhtiari said after the tilt, via Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "I said, 'Hey, are we not calling hands to the face again? Because the past three plays, I've been staring at the sky.' And he's like, you know, he's not looking at my side, but I at least made him aware."
The umpire certainly became aware of Bakhtiari's complaint, later throwing two pivotal flags. Flowers had a different point-of-view of the penalties. NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said Tuesday from the Fall League Meeting in Florida that the first call was correct, but the second one was not a foul.
From Bakhtiari's viewpoint, even if there weren't contact on the plays in question, there were at other points.
"I can definitely tell you," Bakhtiari said, "for a good portion of the game, I was getting my throat punched in, and I was looking up at the sky a fair amount. If you think about it, if your hand is in my throat, you're probably hitting my facemask, which is pushing my head up in the sky."
Bakhtiari's previous plea with officials, coupled with either good acting or fortunate physics that jilted his head backward on the second penalty when the hand didn't reach his face, made a difference. And that is why no matter how annoying it is to see players and coaches chirp at officials after seemingly every play, it will never stop. No one will ever quit a proven method of getting a favorable call or two here and there.