After every touchdown in the NFL, the replay official takes a second look to make sure the play should have counted, and then signals to the referee to allow the extra point if the score is confirmed. On Thanksgiving in Detroit, that happened — and then a touchdown was overturned anyway.
In a strange series of events, Lions tight end Darren Fells was awarded a touchdown catch in the end zone, even though he didn’t have control of the ball before it hit the ground. The replay official wrongly confirmed the touchdown, and the officials spotted the ball for the extra point and gave the ready for play signal.
If the Lions had realized they had been wrongly awarded a touchdown, they would have quickly snapped the ball on the extra point, and at that point it would have been too late to fix the mistake: Under NFL rules, a play can never be reviewed once the next play has started. But the Lions didn’t realize it, took their time, and then the replay official finally corrected himself and buzzed down to the referee to review the play. At that point, the league office overturned the call on the field, and the Lions had to settle for a field goal.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell said he had been told the touchdown was confirmed so he had no reason to tell his extra point team to hurry up and get the snap off.
“They had confirmed it, so you confirm it, you take your time and you kick it,” Caldwell said. “They review every single score, correct? That’s the rule. So they review it, they tell you it’s good, it’s good, so why rush? So our guys were just doing what’s normal.”
It was a big officiating mistake that will only be a footnote because the Lions didn’t capitalize. The NFL better hope another such mistake doesn’t change the outcome of a game.