Flags fly as officials target illegal handiwork
ST. LOUIS -- Saturday's game between the Green Bay Packers and St. Louis Rams turned into a penalty fest with illegal hands to the face being the call-du-jour.
Officials called 30 penalties on both teams combined, 22 of which were accepted. Included were six for hands to the face, which is one of the areas of emphasis for officials this year. There also were six calls for defensive holding and pass interference combined.
The Packers seemed especially bothered by all the hands-to-face penalties, two of which took touchdowns off the board. The first was on left tackle David Bakhtiari on a 10-yard Aaron Rodgers touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson; the second was on center Corey Linsley on backup QB Scott Tolzien's four-yard touchdown to Myles White.
"It's way over the top," Rodgers said. "It's too much. The game is too choppy if they're going to call it like that. I don't know how many penalties. I'd guess excess of 30. That's what it seemed like. I know there's some issues in some of the other guys with the amount of penalties called, but we had two touchdowns taken off the board. It's tough. I don't know how they can continue to ref it that way."
The large number of penalties has been an issue in the preseason so far as the NFL tries to more closely enforce the rules for covering receivers inside and outside the five-yard contact zone.
"I know (officials) have a tough job," Rodgers said. "They're trying to make the right calls all the time. We know what they're emphasizing. We had some of this crew actually in our camp and talking about defensive holding, illegal contact, hands to the face and offensive pass interference.
"You saw it there. You saw a lot of defensive holding calls. You saw an offensive pass interference call, maybe two, and you saw illegal contact, hands to the face, a bunch of them. It makes you have to play, especially after a big play, you're always looking back to see if there's a penalty out there. We don't want to get down that road too far. Hopefully, it's the preseason and they're working their kinks out as well."
• Tight end Brandon Bostick left the game in the first quarter because of a lower-leg injury. McCarthy gave no indication of the injury or its severity.
McCarthy announced no other injuries after the game.
• Third-round pick Richard Rodgers started at tight end and played the entire first series in the Packers' no-huddle offense. Bostick replaced him for the second series.
• Harris lost his fumble on a third-quarter run on a tackle by Lamarcus Joyner, a Rams second-round pick.
"It's on me," Harris said. "No matter what happened, it's my fault. Just my fault."
• Backup tackle Derek Sherrod had a rough game. He allowed one sack and two quarterback hits in extensive playing time at left and right tackle.
On the sack, Rams rookie defensive end Michael Sam beat him on an outside rush to get to Flynn.
• Sam Barrington was the lone linebacker in the Packers' No. 2 dime defense. Brad Jones holds that role with the starters.