Although the Patriots won yesterday's game against the Green Bay Packers, they certainly were inconsistent. They were the most inconsistent on the defensive side of the ball, where an inability to stop the Packers on third downs and a lot of stupid penalties really hurt them.
Some of those calls were very questionable. A couple that come to mind are the James Sanders pass interference, Devin McCourty unnecessary roughness, and the Vince Wilfork facemask (he was clearly held on the play). Although Tully Banta-Cain took a hit to the face first on the negated-Meriweather interception play, his foul was really obvious. Either way, the three preceding penalties all had a big impact, as all were part of touchdown drives for the Packers.
The biggest controversy, of course, was the McCourty play. Matt Flynn had thrown a pass over the middle to Packers' tight end Andrew Quarless on a second quarter drive. Quarless got his hands on the ball, but it was jarred loose by Devin McCourty, who led with his shoulder for a big time hit. Upon viewing the replay, however, it was obvious that McCourty had made helmet-to-helmet contact with Quarless, despite leading with his shoulder. Following the hit, no penalty was called.
According to the telecast, Ed Hochuli and his crew huddled and discussed the play for quite some time, before eventually deciding to flag McCourty for unnecessary roughness. The call was one of the most blatantly late calls I've ever seen, and it really confused a lot of Patriots fans. How could they call it that late?
Apparently, according to Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com, Hochuli decided to reference the video board, which showed the replay of the play:
It was surreal to watch Hochuli gather his officiating crew after Devin McCourty's hit on tight end tight end Andrew Quarless in the second quarter, see him look to the videoboard for a replay, and then have his crew throw a flag some 20-30 seconds after the play. Hochuli seems to enjoy inserting himself into the action. "Look, these guys call the most penalties of any crew in the league and they called them," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said afterwards. "We knew it was going to be a tight game and it was. I've got to do a better job of preparing the team." The Packers were called for two accepted penalties.
While I understand this is only one play, it did have a big impact on the game. Is Hochuli within his rights for consulting the video board to make the call? That seems very unconventional to me. After all, penalties aren't even allowed to be reviewed. Why should Hochuli be able to consult the video board if he can't make the call based on the naked eye? The penalty was missed and it should have stayed that way. Or should the blame be put on the Patriots stadium staff for showing the replay before the final call was made? My gut tells me that Hochuli was in the fault here.