GREEN BAY, Wis. -- "Awful." It was the first word out of Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker's mouth late Monday night when he was asked about the unnecessary roughness call against him when he collided with Packers receiver Geronimo Allison on the first play of the third quarter of a 23-22 loss to Green Bay.
Walker was flagged for 15 yards on the incomplete pass -- and later said he was just going for the ball, criticizing the officiating while explaining it.
"Awful. It was an awful call," Walker said. "I felt like I went for the ball and [it] just so happened we collided, but I was looking for the ball. It was an awful call by them. It is what it is, though."
Walker said he wasn't trying to make contact with Allison and was vying to intercept Aaron Rodgers' pass. They collided, but he said he was "attacking the ball." When asked if the defensive back has the right to go for the ball in that case, referee Clete Blakeman explained what he saw in a postgame pool report.
"That's a good question, but the reality is, it is strict liability for a defensive player," Blakeman said. "In this case, he may be going for the ball and not intending to hit the helmet, but when there's helmet contact, it is a foul in that situation."
Blakeman said even if Walker had intercepted the pass, he still would have been flagged.
Walker used the word "awful" five times to describe some of the penalty calls against the Lions on Monday night.
"Extremely pissed off right now," Walker said. "It is what it is. Disappointed. Hurt. We had that game. I'm going to say the same s---. We should have won it. It is what it is, though. Got to bounce back."
When asked who he was angry at, Walker blamed, well, everything.
"Honestly, just the whole game in itself, the end result," Walker said. "I felt like we could have had a better game and we were supposed to come out victorious with that game, you know, but Green Bay came to play.
"There were some awful, awful calls. But we got to play through them and overcome those."
When told he might get fined for his comments, Walker said, "Whatever. It don't even matter. It is what it is."
Walker wasn't the only Lions player unhappy with the officiating Monday night. Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara posted and later deleted a tweet featuring a photo that appeared to show Green Bay offensive lineman David Bakhtiari's hands in the face of a Lions defender and included illustrative arrows.
And defensive end Trey Flowers was flagged twice for illegal use of the hands on third downs in the fourth quarter that would have ended drives but instead granted the Packers 5 yards and automatic first downs. He explained multiple times what he was actually doing after the game.
"I actually changed the position of my hand, because it was to the chest initially," Flowers said. "Which is right here. I was doing it all game. I didn't know that was a flag to the chest, so I could change it to [motioning somewhere else on his chest]. They called it again."
Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders also joined the chorus of criticism.
That is sickening... the @NFL needs to look at a way to prevent that from happening. Two phantom hands to the face calls really hurts us tonight. Yes, we could have scored TDs, but @Lions played too well to have the game end this way. #DETvsGB @espn— Barry Sanders (@BarrySanders) October 15, 2019
When asked if he thought it was a penalty, Flowers said, "Nah, I didn't think hands to the chest was a penalty. I thought hands to the face. But I had them right here on the chest. Second time I changed it to right here.
"That's part of a move that I do, and yeah, I don't think it's a penalty."
Flowers again reiterated that it's part of a move he does and that if he slipped, he would have agreed it would be a flag, but he didn't slip.
Blakeman then explained what the umpire who threw the flag, Jeff Rice, saw on the fouls.
"The umpire threw both of them. The last one was really the only one I've discussed with him," Blakeman said. "Basically, it's for illegal use of the hands, hands-to-the-face foul. To be a foul, we basically need some forceful contact that's prolonged to the head and neck area ...
"So, in his mind he had pinned him back, it was prolonged, and that's what created the foul."