The Green Bay Packers were able to sneak by the Cleveland Browns on Christmas Day, thanks mainly to Baker Mayfield’s four interceptions. None of the four picks were talked about as much as the last one, which sealed Green Bay’s victory and coincided with a missed call by the officials. As a result, the “Packers get all the calls” crowd is louder than ever, and it makes it that much sweeter.
Rasul Douglas matched up with Donovan Peoples-Jones on Mayfield’s final pass of the night. After some initial jostling with one another, Douglas held Peoples-Jones, which disrupted the timing a bit and resulted in Douglas getting the interception. Upon replay, yes, the officials missed a holding call. What has since transpired is an angry mob of mostly Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears fans bathing in their tears, claiming that the Packers always get every call.
Nothing unites Vikings and Bears fans quite like both being entombed in non-existent seasons while complaining about what’s going on in Green Bay. It’s a tale as old as time, and it’s adorable to watch unfold each time the referees seemingly blow a call that goes the Packers’ way.
In reality, officials in the NFL have struggled in some big moments this year. With social media more prevalent than ever, those moments will catch fire. This play was highlighted for two big reasons.
One, it was the only NFL game on the television at the time. The Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals also played on Christmas, but not until later (and not on network TV). For those that needed their football fix, this was the game.
Secondly, this play came at the end of the game with the Browns chewing up yardage against the Packers. It would’ve gotten far less attention had it come in the first half or earlier on in the second half. That it came on the final play of the evening and helped the Packers elude disaster adds fuel to the fire.
The perception that the Packers get all the calls is laughable. But take one look at the cesspool that is Twitter, and you’ll find plenty of people who genuinely believe the referees and the NFL are in cahoots to alter outcomes in favor of the Packers. It makes it even better for Green Bay fans, who can sit back and laugh.
Perhaps the funniest of all the reactions came from Andrew Siciliano of NFL Network.
Phrasing it as Rasul Douglas and the Packers cheating is, at minimum, an egregious exaggeration. Tom Brady cheated when he deflated footballs. Douglas didn’t cheat. Chalk it up to the officials being poor at their job. Suggesting cheating occurred makes it seem as though Douglas was working arm-in-arm with the officials and told them of some master plan to mug Peoples-Jones and the officials agreed to turn a blind eye.
Those tears taste great, Siciliano.
Here’s a solution that the Browns could’ve exercised to avoid all of this: Take the ball out of Baker’s hands.
Nick Chubb ran all over Green Bay’s Swiss cheese defense to the tune of 126 yards on a 7.6 average per carry. The Browns only needed to get in field goal range, and they had more than enough time to feed Chubb and go with that approach. Mayfield had already thrown three picks before the final, fatal one and had looked lost in the passing game for much of the afternoon. Instead of pointing out Cleveland’s flawed logic, people would rather explore the conspiracy theory between the Packers and the refs.
Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory? What really happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? Did an intentional power outage save Cal Ripken Jr.’s streak? Grab the popcorn, and we can all gather ‘round and dive down those rabbit holes. The idea that the Packers have a handshake agreement with the NFL and its officials is preposterous, though. It’s even funnier how deeply some believe in the notion.
In this scenario, Aaron Rodgers must be irrelevant, and Matt LaFleur must be an average Joe. It doesn’t matter that Davante Adams is a dominant receiver who can take over a game. It’s all one big scripted drama because the referees will always give Green Bay the calls. It’s as if some of you didn’t watch last year’s NFC Championship and missed the multiple muggings by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary. It’s as if some of you failed to see Adams get held in an almost identical fashion in that same game on Christmas.
Alas, those rebuttals fall on deaf ears from the Cheeto-dredged fingers of those who hammer away at the keyboard while splitting chunks of chicken wings out of their mouths, yelling at the television anytime one call goes the way of the Packers. What a sad reality it must be to live in such a manner.