Terry McAulay, the referee from the first matchup between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, has been assigned to the NFC Championship game.
Why is that significant?
The Packers committed a team-record 18 penalties in their first game with the Bears this season, essentially handing Chicago a win. Those 18 penalties added up to 152 yards and a 20-17 loss.
Overall, the Packers finished with the third-fewest penalties in the NFL, prompting coach Mike McCarthy to call the first Packers-Bears game an anomaly.
“We finished the regular season ranked No. 3 in penalties,” McCarthy said. “I think 4.9 or 5.0 penalties per game. The 18 penalties in one game, we look at that as more of an anomaly. I know it is more of an all-star crew. Terry is the referee. He has obviously been selected for this game for good reason.
“I don’t think this game is going to be about anomaly officiating. These are two very good teams that earned the right to be in this game, and this game will be about the football teams.”
The NFL selects officials for the championship games and Super Bowl based on merit. The officials that earn the highest grades in the regular season get to work those games.
McAulay will be joined by an all-star crew, which won’t necessarily be the same as the one the Packers saw in week three.
Regardless, the Packers have cleaned up their act considerably since that game. According to the Journal Sentinel, the team has averaged only 3.5 penalties per game over the last 12 games. There were eight games in which they committed three penalties or fewer.
Hopefully, the trend continues.