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Blandino: Facemask call would be made 'every time'

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Aaron Rodgers' Hail Mary heard around the football world only happened because of a facemask penalty on Detroit's Devin Taylor the play before in Green Bay's 27-23 victory.

At full speed, it looked like a clear call. Taylor's hand connected with Rodgers' face, and his head clearly jerked. Upon review, Taylor's thumb hit the facemask but it's debatable whether he grasped or pulled the facemask, which would be worthy of a penalty.

"It's a close play, but even looking at the replay, the hand is up near the mask, the finger looks like it gets caught in the mask and the head gets turned," said Dean Blandino, NFL vice president of officiating, on NFL Network's Total Access on Thursday. "I'm not convinced that it wasn't a facemask, even looking at the replay. But live at full speed, the referee is going to see that hand up at the mask and the head turned -- he's going to make that call every time."

This is the facemask rule: "No player shall grasp and control, twist, turn, push or pull the facemask of an opponent in any direction. If a player grasps an opponent's facemask, he must immediately release it. If he does not immediately release it and controls his opponent, it is a foul."

Blandino reminded everyone that the call was not reviewable, but emphasized how tough it was for referees to judge the play in real time.

"It's one that's really close. ... When you watch the play live, I was just like everybody else -- you thought: That's a facemask," Blandino said. "And then you see the replay and it's a lot closer than it initially seemed. Again, hand up near the mask, finger caught in that bottom bar and the head does turn."

Translation: It was a very difficult call not to make. It was an understandable call. But Blandino does not say directly that it was the right call, just that it would be made almost every time. Luckily for the Packers, it was made this time.

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