Referees pick up flag in Lions-Cowboys game, set off uproar
Update (10 p.m. ET): The final whistle blew in Dallas more than two hours ago, but the dust is far from settled, the controversy far from over.
Of course we’re talking about the pass interference that wasn’t in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys’ 24-20 win over the Lions in Sunday’s wild-card game in Arlington, Texas. Long story short, holding a 20-17 lead with less than 9 minutes to play in the game, the Lions faced third-and-1 from the Dallas 46.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford threw incomplete to tight end Brandon Pettigrew, but Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens was flagged for pass interference . . . until the officials picked up the flag and took away the penalty which would have given Detroit a first down well into Dallas territory.
First, FOX NFL officiating guru Mike Pereira called b.s. on the officials — you can watch him break the play down and give his thoughts in the video at the top of the page.
Then head referee Pete Morelli gave his side of the story to pool reporter Todd Archer after the game.
— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) January 5, 2015
As for the players involved in the play:
Lions DT Ndamukong Suh: "I’m speechless. … I didn’t expect this outcome."
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell on the explanation he received from officials: "Not a good enough one. … I don’t ever think it comes down to one call, but calls are crucial during games like this … to have something so questionable that occurs, that’s concerning."
Pettigrew: "I thought it was ridiculous, to be honest. He ran through me, pretty much, trying to get back to the ball. To me, it was obvious."
Oh, boy. This one will be talked about for a while.
The Detroit Lions were holding a slim lead and were facing a third down in the fourth quarter of their NFC wild-card game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw a pass to tight end Brandon Pettigrew that bounced off the back of linebacker Anthony Hitchens.
A flag came down and Dez Bryant went nuts! The referee called pass interference on Hitchens, giving the Lions a first down. FOX NFL rules expert Mike Pereira agreed with the call.
But, wait! Suddenly, the referees reversed themselves and picked up the flag. The Lions went from first down well inside Cowboys territory to being forced to punt.
As you can probably tell, the reaction on social media was instant … and entertaining.
Again, this play will be talked about for some time. By the way, the Cowboys went on to win 24-20.
Wow… never seen a flag picked up like that
— Barry Sanders (@BarrySanders) January 5, 2015
Never seen a pass interference flag picked up before!
— Tim Brown (@81TimBrown) January 5, 2015
How do you pick the flag on that call??!! Something smells fishy Hmmm #JerrysWorld
— Pastor Napoleon (@napoleonkaufman) January 5, 2015
I guess the ref changed his mind.
— Plaxico Burress (@plaxicoburress) January 5, 2015
Can Anybody other than a Cowboy fan explain that call?!
— Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) January 5, 2015
That was a crazy turn of events. Didn't know you could pick up a flag after it had been announced marked off and next play was ran.
— Chase Blackburn (@Blackburn5793) January 5, 2015
What did the ref see that he realized he DIDN'T see after they made the call??
— Mike Hill (@ItsMikeHill) January 5, 2015
— Alonzo Highsmith (@alonzohighsmith) January 5, 2015
Refs gotta have something on this game hahaha
— Mike Trout (@Trouty20) January 5, 2015
Dallas is finally getting some home field advantage. Good no call.
— Cris Carter (@criscarter80) January 5, 2015
"Pick up that flag." – Jerry Jones moments ago.
— Frank Caliendo (@FrankCaliendo) January 5, 2015
How do u pick up that flag?????
— Kurt Warner (@kurt13warner) January 5, 2015
— Warren Sapp (@WarrenSapp) January 5, 2015
— The Associated Press contributed to this report