Matt LaFleur fumes over 'inexcusable' penalty after flags fly all day against Packers

Kassidy Hill
Packers News
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MINNEAPOLIS - Matt LaFleur was practically disgusted. The Green Bay Packers had been caught with 12 men on the field on defense, late in the fourth quarter of a tied game. 

“That's embarrassing,” LaFleur said after the Packers' 34-31 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. “Ultimately everything falls on me. I have to make sure that doesn't happen because that cannot happen coming off a stopped-clock situation. Can't happen anytime, but especially when you have a … stopped-ball situation and you've got 12. That's just – it’s inexcusable.” 

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The 12-men-on-the-field penalty was just the last of many flags, though. The Packers committed more penalties in this game than they had all season. Green Bay drew eight flags for 92 yards, surpassing its previous high of seven for 87 yards in a win versus the San Francisco 49ers. 

The Packers' offense finished with five of the eight penalties. The offense found more sync in the second half, putting up 21 points as opposed to 10 points in the first. And the two latter offensive flags were both nullified with touchdowns. But before intermission, the Packers' offense committed three penalties, all procedural, that doomed drives.

The first, a false start, began with quarterback Aaron Rodgers arguing with an official over the call and ended with a punt on the drive. The second time, Green Bay actually moved downfield after the false start, but stalled in the red zone and missed a field goal. 

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur was upset with the officiating Sunday afternoon.

“The first drive of the game, to go out and get seven would have been great,” said Rodgers, before explaining the frustration with the call. “We came back and it looked like there was (pass interference committed) against Marquez (Valdes-Scantling). And that would have been a 10-yard gain. Then we had to settle for a 54-yard field goal (on the second drive). So I think that was definitely frustrating.”

The third flag put Green Bay behind the chains on the first play, and led to a three-and-out. 

“We were hurting ourselves in the first half a lot with penalties, putting ourselves in first and long, second and really long situations,” wide receiver Davante Adams said. “It becomes tough when you play a team like that with a really good defense at home. We shot ourselves in the foot a little bit with some self-infliction early.”

On defense, three penalties were enough to derail the score. Two came on one drive, each time giving the Vikings a fresh set of downs. The first was a defensive pass interference, moving the Vikings to just outside the red zone. After a stout defensive stand looked to have Minnesota stopped on third and five and given the Packers the ball – thanks to a Darnell Savage interception – a penalty marker swung the momentum pendulum back the other way. 

Roughing the passer on Kingsley Keke, in his first game back after three weeks in the concussion protocol, wiped out the interception and put Minnesota at goal-to-go. Three plays later, quarterback Kirk Cousins hit Adam Thielen for the touchdown. 

On what would become the final drive of the day, the defense started off with the aforementioned 12-men on the field call. After a kerfuffle in which the defense looked to have made up for the call with an interception that was then overturned, Cousins and Justin Jefferson took advantage of the short second and 5 off the penalty and converted a first down to head into the two-minute warning. From there, the Vikings milked the clock and kicked the game-winning field goal. 

Existing independent from the rest of the game, the 12-men on the field call was not a killer. But after a day with eight calls – four of which led to game-changing swings – it was the bitter cherry on top, a punctuation mark on the day. 

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