(Apologies to George Kittle and fans of the San Francisco 49ers, whose season was briefly halted by a flag that the Packers were furious over. And apologies also to Packers fans, who watched with palpable disdain from their pews.)
Two weeks before the NFL’s championship game, the one that saw the New England Patriots overcome a 25-point deficit in the Super Bowl to win 31-28 in overtime, a bizarre and disjointed Thanksgiving Sunday was highlighted by an absurd penalty that canceled out a monster gain for Kittle.
With Green Bay on its 14-yard line late in the third quarter, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers found Kittle sprinting away from the pass rush for what would have been an 86-yard touchdown pass into the end zone. The Packers, though, were flagged for a face mask penalty that wiped out the play.
The Packers scored a few plays later on a 1-yard touchdown run by Aaron Jones to go up 14-7, but the handoff to Jones went for negative yards and the Packers had to settle for a field goal that cut the 49ers’ lead to 17-14.
Those plays would have given Green Bay the momentum to take the lead or at least challenge the 49ers with a potential field goal or a touchdown pass from Rodgers to Jordy Nelson. Instead, the Packers had to punt and their ball was pinned deep in its own territory while San Francisco seized the momentum.
"The goal before the game was going to be, 'We got to score so they can't pull out this stupid penalty.' George Kittle." 📺: : pic.twitter.com/4lvgwpkCEi — NFL Network () November 26, 2018
The 49ers’ victory would be more comfortable had Kittle not been flagged for what looked to be an obvious foul. No one but replay officials who were watching the broadcast could tell for sure whether Kittle committed the penalty.
But Rodgers’ reaction to the flag was so furious and theatrical that the Packers’ locker room looked like a cross between “Saturday Night Live” and an upcoming episode of “The Bachelorette.”