After Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary to Jeff Janis tied the game as time expired, the drama was just getting started in the NFC divisional playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals on Saturday. But few would have figured the coin toss before overtime would become such a topic of conversation.
As the away team, Green Bay had the right to call the flip as the captains met at midfield after regulation time ran out. Rodgers called tails, but referee Clete Blakeman called off his first toss. Rodgers and the other Packer captains immediately contested after the attempted flip never made the coin go end over end.
"Clete had it on heads," Rodgers said following the game. "He was showing heads, so I called tails, and it didn't flip. It just tossed up in the air and did not turn over at all. It landed in the ground. So we obviously thought that was not right.”
The coin landed in favor of Arizona but Blakeman agreed to flip the coin again. The second flip also landed on heads, giving Arizona the choice. The Cardinals took the ball and drove the length of the field on the first drive, scoring a touchdown and winning the game 26-20.
Following the game, Rodgers expressed displeasure with not being able to call his toss a second time."He picked the coin up and flipped it to tails, and then he flipped it without giving me a chance to make a recall there. It was confusing." Rodgers indicated he would have called "heads" on the second toss if given the choice.
"I think he was trying to avoid the embarrassment of what just happened," Rodgers said. "He flipped it quickly."
Packers linebacker Clay Matthews added "there was a little protective case that might have been weighted in the heads favor."
"There is nothing in the rule book that specifies this," NFL spokesman Michael Signora said on Sunday in response to the event. "But the referee used his judgment to determine that basic fairness dictated that the coin should flip for the toss to be valid. That is why he re-tossed the coin."
Blakeman is the same referee that presided over the contentious coin flip in Week 16 before the Patriots and Jets began overtime. It was ultimately decided Blakeman handled the situation correctly.
Here is a look at last night’s controversial coin toss:
— Chris Clark (@Cdclarksports) January 17, 2016