GREEN BAY – The physical evidence was underneath Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari’s left eye Monday, a purple shiner that looked like the remnant of a fistfight.
Instead, this wound came from the second quarter of Sunday’s opener against the Seattle Seahawks. After the whistle, Bakhtiari said, defensive end Cliff Avril poked his fingers through Bakhtiari’s facemask.
“He just threw his fingers in there,” Bakhtiari said, “and just started poking and jabbing.”
Bakhtiari said it was a dirty play, but not unexpected. This, he said, is what the Packers get when they play the Seahawks.
Maybe the only people surprised on the field were the game’s officials. Avril, whom former Packers guard T.J. Lang accused of punching him in the groin during last season’s game, wasn’t called for illegal hands to the face. No personal foul penalty.
“The refs were like, ‘Hey, is your eye all right?’” Bakhtiari said. “I was like, ‘I tried to warn you guys about it, but now I actually have physical evidence.’ I mean, it’s the game. You just kind of know what you’re going to get yourself into. They’re going to do everything they can on their side of the ball. The most important thing was not letting that get to you, and just continue to play within the game, play within the rules and get at them when you can.
“I’ve said it before, it’s going to be a heavyweight fight. We’re going to throw punches, and they’re going to throw punches back.”
It wasn’t surprising that Sunday’s opener was chippy from the start. These teams have a history. A year ago, cornerback Jeremy Lane gave receiver Randall Cobb a cheap shot after a kneel-down before halftime.
After his first catch Sunday, Cobb was called for taunting when he got in Lane’s face on the sideline.
The most visible — and certainly most impactful – scuffle came at the end of the Seahawks’ first defensive series. After Aaron Rodgers’ interception to Nazair Jones, Lane and receiver Davante Adams got into a scuffle. Lane was ejected when officials determined he threw a punch, forcing the Seahawks to play the rest of the game without their No. 2 cornerback.
Adams said the fracas happened so quickly, he hardly remembered what happened.
“I honestly didn’t even know he threw a punch,” Adams said. “Because we were scuffling, there was a lot going on. I didn’t know if they saw it, or what actually happened. But, I mean, it’s just a lot of hand fighting going on. Nothing to try to kill each other, but it’s just football.”
Unlike Bakhtiari’s altercation with Avril, the television broadcast captured the clash between Adams and Lane. It showed Adams and Lane shoving each other away from the play. Adams grabbed Lane's facemask before both went to the ground. Lane rolled on top of Adams and put his forearm near the receiver’s throat, but did not appear to throw a punch.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Lane’s ejection put “a lot of strain” on his defense.
“I didn’t see the punch at all,” Carroll said. “I’m disappointed that play would have such magnitude on the game. You guys have seen more of it than I have. I just saw a little thing on the telephone after the game. It’s just such a drastic thing to do that I wish they would have had cooperation from more than one official to talk about it and just figure it out, because it’s such a big call.
“But that’s what they saw. One guy saw it, and that’s what they went with. I’m interesting to see how the league tells how that went and what should happen there.”