In Saturday's 21-7 win on the road in St. Louis against the Rams, the Green Bay Packers committed just two more penalties compared to their opponents (12 for the Packers versus 10 for the Rams), yet the Rams weren't affected like Packers were. Combined, there were 22 penalties, totaling 171 yards. The officiating crew cost Mike McCarthy's offense several potential points with each of his quarterbacks under center (except for Chase Rettig, who played only the last 2 minutes of the game). It may be just the preseason, but Green Bay has to find a way to limit red zone penalties and capitalize.
After Green Bay's flawless first offensive series, their second drive began from their own 7 and proceeded down field. Once in the red zone, quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed a 10-yard pass to Jordy Nelson who came back on his route and stretched out in the front corner of the end zone. It was initially ruled a touchdown, but a flag was thrown on the field for an illegal hands to the face penalty called on second-year tackle David Bakhtiari. That moved the Packers 10 yards back, and on the next play, Rodgers found Andrew Quarless to his left, but it wasn't enough to gain a new set of downs. McCarthy settled for a field goal.
Rodgers expressed his thoughts about the calls his team received after the game, via Packers.com.
"It's tough," Rodgers said, "we had two touchdowns taken off the board. I don't know how they can continue to ref it that way. We know what they're emphasizing,"
A similar situation happened once again in the third quarter with Scott Tolzien under center. Tolzien found Myles White on a 4-yard pass for a touchdown along the left sideline. That play was taken back after another illegal use of hands penalty ... this one on rookie Corey Linsley. Derek Sherrod was then flagged for a false start that moved the offense back 5 more yards. McCarthy elected to go for it on fourth down. Tolzien threw a catchable ball to his target once again with it being tight end Quarless this time, but he was whistled for pass interference (he legitimately pushed off) and couldn't make an outstretched catch anyway. It was a turnover on downs, another missed opportunity.
For Matt Flynn, it was a different situation, but the same result: a missed opportunity. Flynn led the Packers on a quick 3-play 43-yard drive and connected with rookie Jeff Janis on a crossing route that Janis turned into a 35-yard touchdown. For his second drive, he was looking to continue that type of success once again.
On the Rams' 11 yard line, Green Bay was poised to once again reach the end zone after undrafted free agent LaDarius Perkins gathered 19 yards rushing and 15 receiving on the drive. While on the 11, Linsley was once again flagged by the referees to push back the offense. On the next play, receiver Gerrard Sheppard had an opportunity to score on a pass from Flynn, but heard footsteps and couldn't hang onto the pass all the way through. On the next play, Michael Sam recorded his first NFL sack and brought down Flynn 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The Packers went from the 11 to the 31 and were forced once again to settle for a Mason Crosby field goal.
The Packers missed out on three easy chances to add more points to the board in their 14-point win, and you have to think those type of missed points will kill them in the regular season if it happens (especially in games against powerhouses like the Seattle Seahawks -- whom they face Week 1-- and divisional foes who are looking to gain ground).
You can make the case that some of the calls were a bit excessive and ridiculous - and some of them were - but in the end the officials are still going to call games like they were on Saturday.
With three of the calls being illegal hands to the face, that might be something McCarthy and his staff focus on when they look at the tape from the game this week during practice.