Cowboys-Lions key pass interference penalty changed by referees (Video)
A critical pass interference penalty in the Dallas Cowboys-Detroit Lions playoff game Sunday was changed by the referees, leading the Lions to punt and ultimately lose the game.
Detroit had the ball for a 3rd-and-1 at the Cowboys 46 with 8:25 left, leading 20-17. Matt Stafford attempted a pass to tight end Brandon Pettigrew, but linebacker Anthony Hitchens ran into Pettigrew.
The referees called a penalty for pass interference. They even announced the penalty. But then they picked up the flag and decided there was not a penalty.
The decision left FOX announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman baffled:
FOX even brought in rules expert Mike Pereira, and he said he liked the call because if there is contact and the defender is not trying to make a play on the ball while the receiver is making an attempt to, the call is on that player.
“It is clearly pass interference. He’s not playing the ball,” Pereira said. “I still strongly believe that was not a strong pickup of the flag.”
Pereira said the pickup may have been the result of the officiating crew working together for the first time.
The Lions ended up punting to Dallas. The Cowboys marched for a touchdown to go up 24-20 and were able to hold the Lions on the ensuing possession to hang on for the win.
Not only was it a bad call to reverse the decision, but the officials also missed a penalty they should have called on Dez Bryant for running onto the field to protest.
That was a critical decision that really hurt the Lions. If only these referees were more stubborn like Ed Hochuli, the call would have stood.