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Packers-Cardinals repeated overtime coin toss was out of ‘basic fairness,’ NFL says

Quarterback Carson Palmer of the Arizona Cardinals

Quarterback Carson Palmer of the Arizona Cardinals and quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers watch the overtime coin toss in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on Jan. 16, 2016 in Glendale, Ariz. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Norm Hall

No need to flip out over that repeated coin toss.

When referee Clete Blakeman tossed the coin before the start of overtime in the NFC divisional playoff game between Green Bay and Arizona on Saturday night, it never actually flipped. Blakeman quickly picked up the coin and made sure this one went heads over tails in the air.

“The rule book does not specify when the coin must be re-tossed, but the referee used his judgment to determine that basic fairness dictated that the coin should flip for the toss to be valid,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora said in an email to The Associated Press on Sunday. “That is why he re-tossed the coin.”

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers called tails on the initial toss, which landed on the ground as heads — as the coin showed in Blakeman’s hand before the failed flip.

After Blakeman told the teams the coin hadn’t flipped, he stuck with Rodgers’ tails call while he successfully flipped the coin a second time. After the game, Rodgers said he would have called heads on the second toss.

“A team gets one choice and only one choice to declare heads or tails,” Signora told the AP.

The coin landed on heads again, giving the Cardinals the choice — and they elected to receive. Arizona won it 26-20 moments later on Larry Fitzgerald’s 5-yard touchdown catch, two plays after his 75-yard reception.

It wasn’t the only coin-related confusion of the day. Earlier Saturday in the AFC divisional playoff game between Kansas City and New England at Foxborough, Massachusetts, referee Craig Wrolstad flipped the coin and it was tails — which the Chiefs had called.

But, Wrolstad turned to the Patriots players and said, “You win the toss.”

One of the Kansas City players then shouted that the Chiefs had called tails — and Wrolstad quickly corrected himself. Kansas City had, indeed, won the toss and deferred the opening kickoff.

Blakeman has also dealt with a previous coin flip-related controversy. In Week 16, when New England lost to the New York Jets 26-20 in overtime, Patriots coach Bill Belichick told his team to kick if it won the coin toss, which it did. There was confusion, though, when Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater thought New England could choose the direction in which the team could kick.

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