NFL morning after: The NFL has a problem


The NFL has a problem on its hands. That problem was magnified on Sunday when a terrible call went against the Lions in a crucial moment in their playoff loss to the Cowboys. But that problem goes far beyond one play or one game.

The problem in the NFL is that too many officials are bad at their jobs, the rulebook is overly complex, and the league office stands by and does nothing about it.

In Sunday’s Lions-Cowboys game, a pass interference penalty was correctly called on Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens. Referee Pete Morelli turned on his microphone and announced the penalty. And then he inexplicably picked up the flag, decided not to enforce it, and didn’t turn his microphone back on to explain why.

This was a terrible call, and it turned out to be a season-ending call for the Lions. Detroit, to be blunt, got screwed.

Let’s get all the conspiracy theories out of the way: No, I do not believe NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino fixed the game for Cowboys owner Jerry Jones just because Blandino was seen on Jones’s party bus. No, I do not believe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ordered the officials to make sure the Cowboys win because the Cowboys bring big TV ratings. No, I do not believe one of the officials is the NFL’s version of Tim Donaghy. No, I do not believe there was any type of conspiracy against the Lions.

What I believe went against the Lions is incompetence. And incompetent officials blow calls every week in the NFL. And the league office lets it happen, week after week after week.

Players get cut every week when they screw up. Coaches’ jobs are on the line every season. When was the last time a referee got fired for a pattern of bad calls?

This isn’t a call to fire Pete Morelli because this isn’t just about Pete Morelli. In fact, I don’t think Morelli is even close to the worst referee in the NFL. That honor belongs to Jeff Triplette, whose blown calls are so legion that I’d get depressed if I listed them all here. (It says something about Triplette that he once seriously injured a player by throwing a weighted-down penalty flag in his eye, and that wasn’t even close to his biggest blunder.) Triplette is so bad that when he blew a replay review last year, the NFL responded not by firing him but by changing the entire replay review system. Now all referees have to get on the phone with Blandino while they’re reviewing a replay to make sure they’re not screwing it up. Triplette can’t be trusted to get it right on his own.

Triplette keeps his job because NFL officials aren’t held to anywhere near the same high standards that NFL players and coaches are held to. That’s a big part of the NFL’s problem. The NFL needs to fire the officials who get the lowest scores on their evaluations, just as players and coaches lose their jobs when they’re at the bottom of the league. And the NFL needs to replace those fired officials with the best officials in college football, just as the best college players push veteran NFL players out of their jobs every year. That’s the way football works.

Rather, that’s the way it should work. In the NFL, it doesn’t work. In the NFL, officials are handled with kid gloves and coddled with perks like playoff assignments even if their work is below average in the regular season. What the NFL should do is assign the four best officiating crews to the playoffs and have them each work one wild-card game and one divisional game, then have the two best officiating crews work the conference championship games and the best officiating crew work the Super Bowl. Instead, the NFL allows 10 different officials at each position to work in the playoffs, and the league mixes and matches those officials so that they’re often working with fellow officials they’ve never worked with before.

There was obviously some kind of communication breakdown that led Morelli to wave off the flag on the crucial pass interference penalty against the Cowboys. Perhaps if these officials had worked together before Sunday, they would have been better able to communicate together and get the call right.

It should be noted, in defense of the officials, that the NFL puts them in a bad spot with an overly complex rulebook that is incredibly difficult to decipher, even for the professionals. And the NFL draws some odd distinctions about which kinds of plays are reviewable on replay and which plays aren’t. If Lions coach Jim Caldwell had been permitted to challenge the pass interference non-call on replay, perhaps Morelli would have gotten the call right.

Every year the NFL tweaks the rulebook and makes changes to the way the officials do their jobs, but if you’re hoping for real improvement, don’t hold your breath. The league office knows that Americans love their football so much that they’ll keep tuning in. Even when a game gets ruined by the refs.

Here are my thoughts on the four winners from wild card weekend, and their divisional-round matchups:

Ravens at Patriots

Baltimore has a knack for playing well in New England in the playoffs. The Ravens won the AFC Championship Game at New England two years ago, and a year before that the Ravens were a missed field goal away from forcing overtime in the AFC Championship Game at New England. Six years ago the Ravens blew out the Patriots in New England in the playoffs.

I believe the Ravens present a real threat to the Patriots this time around in large part because Baltimore is a complete team: On offense, defense and special teams, it’s hard to find a weakness in the Ravens. Even their injury-riddled secondary held up very well against Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers on Saturday.

Can the Ravens play that well again in New England this week? I believe the Ravens will play well, but actually going to New England and beating the Patriots is going to be a tall order. The Ravens are going to have a tough time stopping Rob Gronkowski, and it’s easy to see why the Patriots are favored.

Panthers at Seahawks

The Panthers have won five straight games, by an average margin of 16 points a game. Yes, it’s true that they haven’t exactly played a murderer’s row of opponents — they closed the regular season with the Saints, Buccaneers, Browns and Falcons before playing the Ryan Lindley-led Cardinals on Saturday — but winning five in a row by 16 points a game isn’t easy against anyone in the NFL.

As for beating the Cardinals on Sunday, obviously, those were not the same Cardinals teams we saw earlier in the season when they were quarterbacked by Carson Palmer, and even when Palmer went down and was replaced by backup Drew Stanton. Lindley is a bad quarterback, and the Panthers took advantage of that. There are no Ryan Lindleys left in the playoffs, and so the Panthers won’t get that lucky again. Luke Kuechly, don’t expect to have another playoff quarterback throw a pass right to you the way Lindley did.

Still, even with Lindley at the helm the Cardinals managed to rack up 397 total yards a week earlier against the 49ers. The Panthers held the Cardinals to 78 yards on Sunday. Let’s give the Panthers defense plenty of credit.

And then, after we’ve given the Panthers credit, let’s acknowledge that it’s very unlikely they’ll beat the Seahawks. Seattle is the best team in the NFL right now, and it’s really, really hard to see them losing at home in January. The Seahawks are the team to beat in the NFL this postseason.

Cowboys at Packers

I love the way Tony Romo played against the stellar Lions defense on Sunday. That Detroit pass rush was devastating, getting to Romo all day, and Romo said after the game that the Lions were the best defense the Cowboys faced this year, by far.

And yet Romo hung in there and completed 19 of 31 passes for 293 yards, and two touchdowns. He was sensational.

Unfortunately, the Cowboys have to expect Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to be sensational in Green Bay on Sunday. And the Cowboys’ defense is going to struggle mightily both with Rodgers and with Packers running back Eddie Lacy. Beating the Lions at home was a struggle for the Cowboys. Beating the Packers in Green Bay will be a much bigger struggle.

Colts at Broncos

Andrew Luck had a good answer when asked about facing Peyton Manning in next weekend’s divisional game.

“We face the Broncos,” Luck said. “I’ve never been into the quarterback vs. quarterback thing. We’re not on the field at the same time.”

Prepare to get sick of the overplayed storyline of Manning against his old team and its new franchise quarterback this week, because you’re going to hear too much of that — and not enough about the matchups that will actually determine that game, like Broncos cornerback Chris Harris against Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton, or Colts offensive tackles Anthony Castonzo and Joe Reitz against Broncos pass rushers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware.

My own feeling is that at this point, Luck just might be a better quarterback than Manning, who began to show his age late in the regular season. But the difference in the Colts-Broncos battle won’t be at quarterback. The difference will be that the Broncos’ defense is a lot better than the Colts’ defense, which means Manning won’t have to do everything himself. That’s why this game will be so tough for Luck and Co.

What we’re left with, then, is four games in which the home team appears to have the advantage. Especially if they get a hometown referee.

356 responses to “NFL morning after: The NFL has a problem

  1. yeah if the NFL wanted to advance the Cowboys, they wouldn’t have cut it that close. It will be interesting to see how officials handle Jerry’s team going forward in these playoffs, perhaps feeling the need for the make-up call or at least not giving the Cowboys the benefit of the doubt on any close calls.

  2. I’m a Packers fan and have no love for the LIONS but Detroit got jobbed on that PI call. I wonder how much Jerry Jones paid that officiating crew on that one.

  3. That’s convenient to say that this call caused the Lions to lose. Bad calls happen all the time and there was still plenty of time after this call for both teams to get the football again. So, unfortunately that’s a cop-out to the rest of the game. To me, the next play, the shanked punt that traveled about 15 yards, was the play that turned the momentum clearly in Dallas’ way. Let’s see if the punter is fired today, as your article suggests will happen.

  4. need to ask Blandino if he made that call.. after all that partying he was doing on Jerruhs bus

  5. There is too much money in the NFL to have the product on the field regulated by part-timers. It would be easy to set up an Officiating HQ/training facility staffed with more full-time referees than are needed. They could study film, review the good and bad of the previous week, do class work on the rule book, conditioning, etc.

    If teams practice in order to try to perfect what they do on Sundays, why not the officials?

    If the entire roster of officials lived and trained in the same facility, there would be less issues with familiarity for post season crews. The league would be better able to get all officials on the same page in terms of what calls to make and when. The officiating would be more consistent.

    You’ll never get perfection. There will also be questionable calls and non-calls. But using the officiating model established back in the 30s (or whenever) does nothing to attempt to minimize the controversial calls.

  6. Well said. Officials should be accountable. If they screw up, they should be fired. Incompetent officials should not be tolerated, but I don’t expect the NFL to do anything about it because of their own incompetence.

  7. It should be noted here that if an official threw the flag for “faceguarding”, and was subsequently corrected by Morelli picking up the flag, that official needs to be fired immediately. I know it would not be the first time that a ref did not understand the very rules he is charged with enforcing, but if there is an NFL ref who believes faceguarding is a penalty (IT’S NOT!!!), he is not competent enough to officiate an NFL (playoff) game.

  8. I know I’m in the minority and that your assertion that fans won’t leave the NFL is correct but I’m done. This fan is done. The NFL has escalated to the same pinnacle the NBA reached with the Kings Lakers game in 2002. I left the NBA after that year and have never looked back.

    Its also true that the conspiracy theories are a bit odd but the behavior of these individuals is so bad that it allows people to make them plausible. Dean Blandino can’t be partying with any team.

    Perhaps the only place I may disagree is whether or not the NFL has its own version of Tim Donaghy. Its not that the game was fixed but every professional sport should be worried that this is happening. People are flawed and its easy money to fix a game and clearly really difficult to catch someone one when they’re doing it. Just like the NFL researches players past, the NFL should examine referees background to know if there is any need to be concerned when a game is called this poorly.

  9. Maybe the reason the NFL has bad referees is because no one wants to be a ref. They get no respect, no one likes them, no one focuses on the good calls they make (just the bad ones), and get get berated for every little bad call they make. With that said, does this sound like a job you would want to have?

  10. You are correct regarding Jeff Triplette. There’s another that comes to mind named, Ed Hochuli who thinks that fans come to the games to watch him ref. Hochuli isn’t even remotely as good of a ref as he thinks he is. Regarding accountability, that’s got to be priority # 1 and it needs to start with the league office and Roger Goodell. As bad as the pass interference non-call was in the Lions-Cowboys game, so was the fact that Ndamukong Suh was even allowed to suit up for that game. Without him, the score of the game at the time of that penalty would have been much different and that bad penalty scenario would have been irrelevent. Actions have consequences and it starts with the league office!

  11. Incompetence seems a bit harsh when describing the officials. These guys are the best and most experienced people at their positions, so I would certainly label them as competent. They have to make split second judgement calls without the benefit of a dozen different camera angles replayed for a frame to frame analysis. But I certainly don’t want every play subject to this scrutiny either.
    I think this simply strengthens the argument of expanding the coaches choices of what he can throw the challenge flag for.

  12. Yeah, it was fixed. That’s why they made the call, picked up the flag, and continued for everyone to see. Because they wanted everyone to see what they were up to. Hey FYI, if they game were fixed, NO FLAG WOULD HAVE BEEN THROWN AT ALL.

  13. Thank you ! This is an issue that needs to be discussed and addressed. This has been happening for years and it is ignored. The commentators will sometimes mention a bad call , but often times just move on. (We have HD & DVR’s now and can review it ourselves, even when they don’t show the replay). The Bills had this happen to them in “The Forward Lateral Game”, which knocked them out of the playoffs the last time they went.

  14. They showed Triplette “working” the sideline in some capacity during the Lions-Cowboys game. I think he might have been a replay official. Be interesting to see if he said anything to Morelli after that play. Agree he’s not a guy you want to see on the field at any rate.

  15. Sadly, there is NO EVIDENCE FOR YOUR BELIEFS.

    The most significant penalty in football is the pass interference penalty — and yet it is not reviewable. Why? If you wanted to use a referee to influence a game, you could do it through that one penalty (either for or against). If it is possible, assume that it has been done (the fact that they are part-time refs makes it just more likely).

  16. C’mon man, why don’t you spice it up a bit and get a little dramatic about the PI call? All we ever here is “let the players play”. That’s exactly what the end result of that call was. There was illegal contact missed prior to the ball release. Pettigrew grabbed Hitchens facemask with the ball in the air, also illegal. But, correct assessed, the contact at the point was “minimal at best”. If Pettigrew was trying to work back to the ball it’s an easy call. But he tried to make the catch fading up field.
    Two major factors that are leading to all this butthurt: 1) We see that called PI all the time. Doesn’t mean it is accurate, but you now expect to be PI. 2) The Ref made the announcement. Biggest knock against him. The NFL has the refs on headsets to speed up the calls. This probably contributed to the call being announced before the other official stepped in and said there was no real contact.
    The end result is what we need more of. The path to it needs to improve.

  17. So the officials blew a call. There’s nothing new there. It’s been going on for decades. Way too many flags get thrown and the NFL has tilted the game to the offense ever since Bill Polian began whining that Patriots defenders (mainly Ty Law) were getting too physical with Colts wide receivers in the early 2000s. There’s a lot in the NFL that needs to get fixed. Overturning the Suh suspension is a much bigger black eye for a league that has seen too much the past year.

  18. Lets see…what’s a bigger ratings/money generator: Carolina at Green Bay, or ICE BOWL II, the return of “America’s Team” to the other “America’s Team”? Cam Newton vs. Aaron Rodgers, or Tony Romo(a Wisconsin native)vs. Aaron Rodgers?
    Las Vegas is going koo-koo on this one. If you don’t think things like this are manipulated to be, go back to Super Bowl III, Jets vs. Colts. The Colts were very good, but Joe Willy ‘guaranteed’ a win for the ‘other league’ Jets. Colts receivers dropping wide-open touchdown passes…
    So, those crafty folks in the NFL get their match up.

    The Lions didn’t help themselves. But if they get that call, in all likelihood they win. Me thinks the smell of money runneth over.

  19. I fully agree that it’s extremely odd to throw a flag, make a call and then just act like it didn’t happen…and I agree that that cannot happen.

    But it did…and it didn’t cost anyone the game. This is not the first time a team feels jobbed and I promise it will not be anywhere near the last. They had plenty of time to make the outcome different. Hell, if the punter kicks the ball just 20 yards this call would most likely be the “call that coulda”.

    Doesn’t make it fair. It’s not fair that the tuck rule was called or that OSU got that PI call in ’02…but time was left to change the outcome.

    Now hail mary gate…

  20. I wish we didn’t talk about the Lions game as if one blown call screwed them over. It was a series of calls. Even on the same play, defensive holding and a blatant unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Dez Bryant was ignored. You have to try to ignore that. It was not a mistake.

    After that, you end up with bogus defensive holding calls made against the Lions and the replays show Suh getting wrestled around by his neck on those same plays. It was an entire quarter of one-sided calls.

  21. I think it is more the complexity of the rules and the nuance of what is and isn’t a penalty than it is the lack of competence of officials.

    Holding calls can be devastating and guys are being called if their arm encircles an opponent even if they don’t use that leveraged position to hold with. The cowboys had a touchdown called back due to this type of Hold.

    Officiating is tough and the consequences of a wrong call can be huge.

  22. Dont Blame the Refs..Blame that idiot Caldwell..Its 4th and 1 your in the playoffs Why are you taken a Delay of Game?? Where are your Balls and Confidence in your Team..Jason did that on 4th and 6 and Thats Why Jason is playing Next week and Caldwell is NOT

  23. It was soooo important to the league to get tougher on defenders contacting receivers when Peyton Manning couldn’t moonwalk to another Super Bowl title. Now what do we have? An over complicated set of rules that are allowed to be completely subjective from official to official and even play to play without any opportunity of reviewing.

  24. Yeah it was a bad call but again the Lions had chances to win this game easily. Its a bad call but not a Raiders ‘tuck rule’ problem which practically lost the game for Oakland at the end.

    But i said in the other thread, Suh shouldnt have even been on the field so to me this levels this out a bit

  25. Nothing will change because most people like to complain but still tune in on game day. If you don’t like the product then stop watching.

  26. Have to admit Mr. Smith – the best, most well thought out post I have seen on PFT. Kudos to you for the analysis and the conclusions. I could not agree more.

    I am neither a Cowboys nor a Lions fan. In fact I do not care for either team. I also teach my kids not to blame refs or external factors in their games, rather accepting responsibility for poor team play when they lose. But this one…wow. Lions have to accept they didn’t play well enough to win, but I don’t recall a game (especially this meaningful) where the outcome was so clearly affected by crappy officiating. The Lions deserved that call, and that call likely would have changed the outcome.

    There may not have been a conspiracy (and I don’t think there was either) but shame on the NFL for falling so low to the point where a common belief is that ratings and dollars are perceived to outweigh fair play and sportsmanship. Because that is unfortunately not an uncommon belief.

  27. The NFL owners will never open up judgment calls like PI and personal fouls to review–scrutinizing subjective, split-second assessments by refs is a place no one will go. No matter what JJ is yakking about to reporters today.

    The NFL will argue publicly that this latest ref blunder is the byproduct of having erring human beings officiating contests. End of discussion.

    But the Lions got the shaft on this one. No doubt about it.

  28. Its fixed nothing will be done about it,and the cowboys move on, im disgusted by it, i think im done watching it, they teams with the fan base generate the most money, so the cowboys/ packers game will generate viewers and Goodall gets what he wants, more money in the league, its a greedy,gambling owned sport as evident almost a year every year, thats what you get when you watch a sport, run by devils..

  29. The union won’t allow any meaningful redress of these issues. They already walked out over accountability and pay. The answer isn’t full time officials, it’s competence and accountability something unions have fought their entire existence. I hate thinking the league or officials would favor a team for profit but it is extremely hard not to based on the inexplicable calls over the last several years. The league is out for every last dollar and has gained central control over officiating and the outcome of games. Hochuli told officials over a hot mic that a call was confirmed correct. I don’t believe that play in question was reviewed officially, so how would he know unless there was a constant comm-link to NY? If there was a constant link, why?

  30. You can’t fire the refs because they have iron-clad contracts. Why do they? Because when they went on strike every media idiot in the world, including you guys, screamed for the NFL to give them what they wanted. YOU forced the NFL’s hand by belittling the replacement refs who did mess up, but weren’t much worse than the normal incompetent refs and at least were learning and provided a potential source of substitutes for refs fired due to incompetence.

    If you all weren’t is such a hurry to kick the NFL every chance you get, you might have supported them in the strike and allowed the NFL to put ref discipline into the contract.

    One thing is certain: next ref contract negotiation, you will again support the refs and attack the NFL, and then when things are no better, you will again be clueless as to why.

  31. That’s quite a rant but the point was well made early on. Overall, i just wish people would stop trying to make the game better, because the changes usually make things worse. We are getting away from a simple game of wills and injecting too much show biz.

  32. The players and officials are confused, when that happens blame Goodell and the league for the incompetence. It is getting difficult to watch the games knowing that somewhere in those 60 minutes your team will get screwed.

    Detroit found out the hard way.

  33. Fine the officials. Why wasn’t there a penalty against Bryant? Why was the head official on the party bus with the cowboys owner?

  34. Very invigorating and insightful article to read. The key point is that there are a lot of different things the NFL could do that might improve the officiating and/or the officiating system of rules and processes, and hopefully they will explore a variety of ideas and try to implement any positive changes they can come up with.

  35. What about Ol’ Blank Stare not going for it on 4th and one? Then backing that up with a shanked punt.

    Blame the ref’s all you want but the Lions were still leading at that point…..

  36. Face guarding is not a penalty. How was Hitches supposed to turn his head and play the ball when Pettigrews’ got him by the facemask? Stafford threw the right at the back of Hitchens. How was Pettigrew going to make the catch? Go right through Hitchens?

  37. The author asserts that Detroit lost BECAUSE of that call, which was indeed terrible. But that ignores all the chances the Lions had after that play. What about Lawrence recovering the fumble and then fumbling it back to Detroit? That was a golden opportunity the Lions blew. The haters can cry all day (and I know they will), But Detroit’s failure to execute was as big an issue as that blown call.

  38. I’ve played and watched football since the mid 70’s. Any time any player that was not on the field came on, he was immediately ejected and the team was flagged.

    Now all of a sudden, refs don’t know players can’t common the field?? Ludicrous!

    Basic pass interference: If the defensive player does not turn his head towards the ball and hits the offensive players, its pass interference.

  39. I despise the Lions and Cowboys but there was still 9:00 minutes left in the 4th and to automatically ASSume they would’ve scored is shortsighted. Maybe the Lions should’ve scored more than 3 points the entire 2nd half.

  40. I understand the frustration with the officials but how could Detroit’s punter shank a punk at such a critical point in the game the way he did. If he pins them deep so much would’ve/could’ve been a moot point,heck,he could’ve put it in the endzone and that would not been a bad thing.

  41. You’re wrong. I was a fan and will take my dough and go home until they fix this.

  42. The refs didn’t reinstate Suh with no explanation. They didn’t make them shank a 4th quarter punt, nor did they reverse a touchdown. The Lions choked and let Dallas drive down the field for a game winning score. Couldn’t even stop them on 4th and 6. Sore losers. Or course everyone lets the media control their minds with their drama articles.

  43. They sure do have a problem! I’m canceling my NFL Network account as we speak! I’m not filling the NFL pockets of my hard earned Money for this junk!

  44. Besides the refs screwing things up, the game was nearly unwatchable (or “unlistenable”) due to the constant cheerleading for the Cowboys by the ENTIRE Fox crew. From Terry “The Cowboy” Bradshaw through the insufferable Joe Buck, it was like listening to the Dallas Cowboy Network.

    Is it not enough that Texas itself is filled with egomanical blowhards, but now we have to listen to the Fox commentators actively cheering for the Cowboys?

  45. Exhibit A on why Godell and NFL management are a joke. Don’t cry that the Ref’s Union protects them from getting fired. Yes they protect all refs, like they should, to allow DUE PROCESS!

    All the “management” needs to do is document every screw up, then submit it to the union THEN DISCIPLINE THEM!!

    They just allow this to happen. (Yes the Cowboys have a little following on TV) Seriously. What game is better rated? The Lions and Packers or the Cowboys and Packers??

    Never mind the fact that Dez runs onto the field without his helmet and argues with the ref with no penalty????????

    The NFL can just say, it’s the refs fault.. They got their match up…

  46. And if you want to snivel and cry about missed calls, Detroit should have been penalized for roughing the punter which would have given Dallas a first down. But no, Dallas was called for it.

  47. Everyone is acting like this call decided the game. Who knows what would have happened next even with a 1st down. Stanford pick or fumble. Maybe a missed field goal ( that hasn’t happened in Detroit this year) Just look at the shanked punt. I say overcome adversity and go for it on 4th & 1

  48. I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any stretch. But this one is just too fishy. There are too many aspects of it that suggest a fix. It warrants an investigation.

  49. “The problem in the NFL is that too many officials are bad at their jobs, the rulebook is overly complex, and the league office stands by and does nothing about it.”
    Exactly said. The NFL is like the govt., or a union. Incompetence is rewarded, and things like this are tolerated.

  50. There is no way to perfect human judgment. It’s part of the game. But, keep fanning the flames, the babies were not crying loud enough before.

  51. So first Suh, the NFL’s dirtiest players, who has a history of getting fined, is suspended for deliberately trying to hurt Aaron Rogers, one of the NFL’s golden boys.

    Then the NFL REVERSES its decision to suspend Suh, because even though he is still trying to deliberately hurt people, it wouldn’t be fair to take away DET’s best defensive player at a time when they need him the most.

    Then the refs REVERSE a penalty in the game that ends up swinging the momentum of the game and DET goes on to lose.

    Kinda sounds a little like KARMA to me…

  52. Visit this guys twitter for two seconds and you’ll realize his a hateful little weasel. To suggest that the Lions were defeated by a call that you were not on the field to judge is absolutely ridiculous. They were given multiple opportunities to go down the and score. Its all a part of the game.

  53. Even if an official or referee did face any kind of discipline for royally pooch screwing a call, they don’t stand to lose much. These officials are all part time employees by the league, so they have day jobs that keep them busy off the football field. What the league should do is employ them full time, thus forcing them to face real consequences if they do screw up a penalty call one way or the other. That would fix a lot of officiating problems the league faces right now.

    Of course, the officials are unionized, so good luck making that happen.

  54. What seems to be lost in this whole discussion is that the receiver grabbed the face mask of the defender and pulled the defender into the receiver preventing the defender from being able to turn and look for the ball. Offsetting penalties at best.

  55. Gee, maybe Dez Bryant running out onto the field pleading with the ref changed the ref’s mind. Unfortunately you failed to even mention this, never mind the penalty that wasn’t called on Bryant.

  56. Don’t go bothering Prince Roger. Prince Roger is in no way concerned with fixing glaring/pressing problems like rampant incompetence by the officials.

    Let Prince Roger instead focus on messing up the NFL further by pressing for expansion of the number of playoff teams and force-feeding locations of teams to failed markets like London and Los Angeles.

  57. I’m sorry Detroit you got screwed. the drought continues for you.
    As far as future officiating:
    Bellichick is right. The NFL must alllow challenges to PI’s. They are game changing calls. Lets hope this off season he can convince the rules commission to allow challenges to calls, like he got them to extend the upright on the goal posts. Yes its time for common sense to prevail.

  58. How come none of you so called experts are talking about before contact on that call that the Lion’s receiver could clearly be seen on the 2nd replay angle reaching out and grabbing the defensive back’s face mask?

    At which point the DB could not turn his head to look back, and the Lions receiver pulled the DB into himself creating the illusion of contact by the DB.

    If anything that was offensive PI

  59. Donaghy was a rogue. Just ask David Stern, Roger Goddell and anyone cashing checks from either of the organizations that employ them.

    Ask the other 150 million people that follow either sport and they will tell you you are flat out of your mind.

  60. Somehow 1 penalty changed the whole game.

    No one talks about the bad calls that lead to the phantom lead Detroit had in the first place. If the punter wasn’t going down untouched in the 1st quarter he would have had plenty of room to land and there would have been no call and Dallas would have had the ball around the Det. 40 and more importantly, no Det. TD.

  61. As soon as I saw that call I turned off the tv , I did’nt need to watch anymore , I had just read the script .

  62. The timing and impact of that call could not have been more obvious. I am now convinced that the NFL is rigged and will not spend another dollar on their product. There needs to be a congressional review.

  63. False, the NFL does not have a problem. The media will create one despite the evidence that shows this was not a penalty. In fact, it’s refreshing to see an official get a call right for a change.

    It’s a shame the media who want hits on their websites will fuel the fire of Cowboys haters but that’s the way it is. If anything, the league needs to remove that faceguarding penalty.

  64. I personally feel its very funny the Pittsburgh Steelers have not won a playoff game since Tim Tebow destroyed them in the playoffs years ago.
    Watching them get Flaccoed was a lot of fun too! Agreed?

  65. The official that witnessed the play did the right thing by throwing the flag, the fowl was announced, all well and good, UNTIL, ??? Why recant on a blatant fowl ? Why wait so long ? Why no explanation ? Sooo now the next day, various reasons ( opinions ) emerge. This was not a ” mistaken incident ” no it wasn’t . Not by a long shot. And as any fan knows ” the fix” has happened before, yes it has just like in Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, and world wide in soccer. Another question, why does it seem to involve the Cowboys as often as it does ? No I don’t have the answers, but Money is defiantly involved, yea it is….

  66. The league tried to implement virtually all of these proposed changes in 2012. But the union balked and that’s what led to the lockout. The drumbeat then started to get the real officials back on the field by giving them what they wanted.

    So, yeah, the league does have a problem on its hands–its referees are unionized. Perhaps this site could explain how the owners can implement the changes being advocated in light of the collective bargaining agreement.

    Of course, the league was criticized relentlessly here during the lockout when the league was trying to accomplish the very things this site is saying needs to be done now. If you keep demanding instant gratification you can’t expect long term solutions.

  67. Is the part on the Ravens professional insight? Because, it really doesn’t seem like it.

    2009-2012 have no bearing on this game, good, bad or otherwise except maybe to give Baltimore confidence that it is possible to win in NE.

    For example, the Seattle Seahawks were 21-11 at home from 2009-2012. Since they have been 14-2. Their past record is irrelevant now.

    The Patriots defense is probably 100 times better then even last year, when they slaughtered Baltimore.

    If the Ravens were a complete team, why did they lose to every team over 500 except the Steelers. They played an incredibly weak schedule. 6 wins against the NFC South and AFC South. They obviously aren’t nearly as good as they have been in the past.

    Can they win in NE? Sure. Not because of anything to do with the past though, just because they are a well coached NFL team with an experienced QB. They could beat any team, but it doesn’t make it likely.

  68. I think a lesser-mentioned aspect of this is why would the league have refs go out there during the biggest games of the season with a crew they’re unfamiliar with? Why wouldn’t they just give the head ref his regular crew just because of the trust and familiarity he places in the people he knows? If Morelli has his normal crew, chances are that it wouldn’t have been such a train wreck of a call because they know each other. But yeah, refs need to start being held accountable for this garbage. That was as bad a call as I’ve ever seen, not to mention not flagging Bryant for running onto the field to argue

  69. Absolutely, college games are not having any were near these problems. I dont want to see penalties reviewed by coaches challenges, I want a centralized review center in which technology is actually utilized as if it were 2015.

  70. We can’t expect competence from folks who only do this for 3 hours per week for only a few months a year. Most people would be horribly incompetent under those circumstances. NFL desperately needs to change this.

  71. I’m a Lions fan, and I’m comfortable saying that it wasn’t the most egregious pass interference in the history of football. The defender didn’t lay Pettigrew out before the ball got there. We’ve all seen worse. So if the officials honestly thought there was no DPI there, I’d say that it was a bad call, but not a screw job.

    But not throwing a flag on Dez Bryant running out onto the field to argue? That’s inexcusable.

  72. Corporate press beholding to NFL dollars are already trying to frame the argument to dilute the fact that the play was exactly what pass interference is in all fazes. YOU HAVE TO PLAY THE BALL AND NOT MAKE CONTACT. If it were a no call fine, they missed it, like they do often. But to have called it, have it show on the jumbo tron and replayed 3 times on TV and have Mike Peirera validate the penalty, then pick the flag up… C’mon man.

  73. NFL football is the only game where the officials are fixed in their roles and hide behind the defense of “that play/player was not my responsibility to see.”

    MLB umpires have a crew chief, but the 4 (or 6 in the postseason) umpires rotate positions daily, and even on certain plays when one has to go into the outfield from his base.

    NBA referees are all equal in stature and rotate their positions all though the game.

    NHL referees are equal to each other and either can make a call, same with NHL linesmen.

    But we see it week in and week out at the goal line – a back takes a handoff and dives into or over a pile of people, and even though the umpire is standing right there, the only people allowed to call the TD are the head linesman and line judge who are generally 20-25 yards away from the action (the field is 53 yards wide), and run in from the sideline trying to guess if they saw a score. Or in Morelli’s case, he didn’t see what happened because his responsibility during a play is to watch the QB.

    Make the game officials like MLB umpires – have a crew chief who will make the announcements, but rotate them every week so they can see the game from all 7 positions regularly. They’re all connected with headsets now, so they can relay info to each other, and they still huddle anyway.

  74. Anyone crying about the picked up flag dont forget about 3-4 obviously bad calls that went against Dallas. Mike Periera even admitted two were blown calls by the officials. Detroit got away with a false start that resulted in a completed pass and first down in the first half. Detroit ran into the Dallas kicker and was not flagged. Detroit pushed Terrance Williams into another lion and the refs called offensive pass interference instead of defensive or a simple no call.

    The only thing wrong the refs did on the hitchens play was announce the penalty. Watch the play in real time and its not PI. Refs pick up flags all the time, every game in fact. The ref should have waited the extra 10 seconds to hear from the other official on his point of view before announcing the no call. At the end of the day he got the call right IMOP and that’s what matters. If he got it wrong then Dallas was still 1-3 in the bad call department. Detroit still had the lead and could have stopped Dallas and or went out and won the game at the end like Romo did.

  75. The first half of this game I was convinced the Refs were doing all they could to ensure Detroit won the game. The second half the Refs did all they could to allow Dallas to win.

  76. As usual, Seattle is preparing to hoist another Lombardi as the odds-on favorite. The rest is just foreplay. Seattle’s legendary 12th Man is ready to claim the the throne again as this dynasty rolls on!

  77. Good article. However, if you cling to the notion that the fix was not in, you are delusional.

  78. one bad call with eight minutes left did not cost Detroit anything they fumbled twice on the last drive.. and if the nfl wanted dallas to win suh wouldn’t have been able to play

  79. As a Lions fan I appreciate everyone acknowledging we got screwed again but we get screwed ALL the time. Jeremy Ross is the only player in the history of the NFL to maintain possession in less than a second. The officials said he downed the ball at the 1 against the cards while possessing the ball .33 seconds.

    It’s very difficult being a fan of a smaller organization and feeling like you have to go against the media who constantly villainizing your team, gullible fans believing the media hype, and then watching people apart of good organizations get away with illegal drugs like the colts owner.

    I don’t even know how I feel about referees in high positions partying on Cowboys party buses, and strip clubs, and then throwing and picking up flags like that. Seems like something a shady partnership would think up

  80. Haha, no. You got that wrong. The worst ref in the NFL is Jerome Boger, who is not only inept at every degree, but is actively biased against teams to an extent the NFL will actually cover it up.

  81. There are two points here that are absolutely being missed. First, the contact between Hitchens and Pettigrew took place AFTER the ball had contacted Hitchens’ back. By rule, once there is defensive contact with the ball there is no longer pass interference. Since the actual contact took place after the ball touched Hitchens (watch the side view replay and you’ll see this), there was no PI because the ball had already hit a defender. It is no different than a pass being tipped by a defender at the line of scrimmage. The DB’s can tackle the receivers at that point and there is no PI. The second point is that the Lions were still AHEAD in the game when this no-call occurred. I could understand the Lions crying that it cost them the game if it had happened on the last play of the game in the end zone, but whether or not it was a PI doesn’t change the fact that the Lions were still ahead after it happened. If their vaunted defense had bowed up and stopped the Cowboys on that last drive then this play with Pettigrew and Hitchens would mean nothing. I personally think the refs got the call correct, but even if they didn’t it is sheer lunacy to claim that this call “cost” the Lions the game. It was an epic fail by their offense (6 points in the last 52:90 of the game), and an epic fail by their defense which included two different 4th quarter 4th down conversions by the Cowboys and a great late 4th quarter drive for the go ahead touchdown that cost the Lions the game. Was it a bad call? Perhaps, but it certainly didn’t cost the Lions the game.

  82. The refs don’t always get it right, but IMO it was a good no call. It was close, but the defender didn’t make contact until after the ball arrived. If you want to complain about calls, or the lack there of, look at the Dallas defender being held on Reggie Bush’s TD. It goes both ways, so in my book, everything evened out.

  83. The NFL locked out the officials, in part because of lack of accountability for bad calls. This site was one of the sites leading the charge to bring them back. That happened, without many of the changes the league wanted. Now that’s come home to roost. But hey, we’ve got another made up news crisis… so there’s that.

  84. Even if they threw the flag and picked it up, how was Dez allowed to run 15 yards on to the field without a helmet on to dispute a penalty on his defense? That is the bigger atrocity in this whole thing. 30 yards of penalties erased due to pure incompetence.

    Also, so sick of these receivers coming up looking for flags immediately. Really would like to see the league come up with some sort of 5 yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct in those situations. Let the refs make the calls and just play the game.

  85. Season ending call? What about the 10 yd punt, 4th and 1, defense not stopping the Cowboys on their game winning drive. Even with a bad call, Lions had their chances to win and FAILED. Cowboys advance. Sit down & shut up!

  86. If the media would actually show the entire play at all angles it would be obvious there was pass interference or holding . . . against the Lions. All we get to see is the last 2 seconds of the play where the defender’s momentum was already going against him. What very few replays are showing is the receiver tugging on the jersey and facemask of the defender causing him to fall his way and not giving him a chance to turn around. This was receiver’s attempt at forcing a pass interference call that just didn’t work. Nevermind the fact that there wasn’t enough contact on the defender’s part to really warrant a PI.

  87. It was a horrendous call. It just upsets people more because it was the Cowboys, once again, benefitting from a terrible non-call. If was not a Dallas defender, the flag would have never been picked up. I can’t really blame Morelli, I blame the official who overruled the original call because he apparently had the better angle. That guy will not be fired, but the NFL should ensure this guy never works a playoff game again. Damn, I hate the Cowboys.

  88. If the calls would be reviewed in New York maybe they could have talked some sense into those intimidated officials at that game. They definitely need help because they don’t seem to know what the hell is going on.

  89. On the other hand Calvin Johnson did actually possess the ball against Chicago for a td but the ground knocked it out so it was no td.

    So on one hand Jeremy Ross possesses the ball in under a second and the other Calvin didn’t posess it long enough. Both situations the Lions have the calls go against them

  90. You guys got it all wrong. The officials are VERY good at their job which is to influence the outcome of the games regarding winners and point spreads. The NFL is an entertainment product only and isn’t obligated to insure fair sporting matches by any law. You guys can spin it any way you want and say I’m wearing tinfoil on my head but the fact remains that the officials’ so-called incompetence is actually part of the ruse and is as old as sports itself. The only question I have is over who decides the outcomes.

  91. 129 plays in that game and 1…only 1 cost the Lions the game? This will be the narrative especially since the same old tied ones won’t apply. Oh, except if Dallas loses, then those will apply again.

    Jason Garrett went for it on 4th down at the 1 yard line…he did it again on 4th and 6 at midfield with close to 6 minutes left. He did those things because he has guts and played to win.

    Keep thinking that 1 play cost you the game. It’s a losers mentality that Detroit wears well.

  92. When a company’s primary concern is profit and that company’s primary commodity is entertainment it really isn’t that far of a reach to expect some … manipulation … in order to keep people watching.

    I don’t think the NFL actually fixes games, but I definitely believe that the timing of calling / not calling penalties is done to ensure the closest possible outcome whenever possible. For someone to think otherwise is fooling themselves. Professional sports in America stopped being about who’s the best a LONG time ago.

  93. Detroit missed several opportunities to win that game. One call didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It comes down to discipline and the Lions haven’t developed it to the point they can face adversity without losing their focus.

  94. Wait…people think it was a legit PI?

    It doesnt matter if he had his back turned, no real contact was made. If the WR had forced contact and made a play on the ball it would have been legit.

    I dont care about either the cowboys or lions….but when Aikman and Buck (and even freakin Perreira) started going nuts about it…I was truly shocked that these guys dont even know their own game.

  95. I have been watching football for over 45 years and have seen thousands of games and not once heard of the Tuck Rule until it was used by the officials after a long delay to hand the game to the Patriots. The officials dictate the outcome of these games.

  96. I LOVE how no one mentions the offensive face mask penalty NON CALL , on Petigrew on that same controversial play. Something else………….this play didn’t decide the outcome of the game. The ball would have been somewhere between the 25 and 30 yard line. NO GUARANTEE that the lions get a td there. A thousand different things could have happened. I think most of the people who say that the refs stink are right, but it did not decide the outcome of this game. How about caldwell not going for it on 4th and 1?, how about Lawrence of Dallas NOT falling on the fumble and the game ends right there? , how about the lions defense stopping Witten on 4th and 6 and getting faked out of their GORD on that play by Witten for 21 yards?, how about the 83 Yard TD to Williams the Lions gave up, how about the 4th and one call at the goal line to go for it for Dallas? that the lions couldn’t stop, how about the missed FG by Dallas, how about that the Lions couldn’t get any pressure on Romo during their go-ahead TD to williams. All those things don’t matter, they “never happened”. The only thing that happened in this game was the NON-P.I. call , right?……………the writer of this article and the people that agree with him are indicative of the short attention spans in this nation. Take all into consideration, INCLUDING the non-call on the face mask by Pettifgrew on that very same play. You don’t like the Cowboys? that’s fine , you don’t have to , but don’t take your bias out on them by ignoring all the other factors which contributed to the game’s outcome.

  97. The giant mistake was that Morelli didn’t turn the mic back on and explain that the flag was being picked up. This nonsense about it being “the worst call ever was nonsense. Hell, the holding penalty (called on Witten) that wiped out a touchdown by the Cowboys was more suspect than the PI. the other problem is that most fans, like MOST players, are morons and simply don’t know the rules. If you look at the replay closely, there was contact but nothing that inhibited the receiver from catching the ball. The most serious contact on the play was the tight end pulling down the facemask of the defender. The league also needs to knock off these “all-star” crews in the playoffs. Crews should be chosen to work together, not individuals.

  98. The crazy thing is, Jeff Triplett was there on the sidelines (dont recall which sideline, hopefully not Dallas’) with a head mic on. I assume he was there to communicate with the NY replay people, hopefully he had no part in the picked up flag….just adds another layer to this mess

  99. Good points on the Hitchens PI call MDS. Seems every other member of the media is treating this like it’s the first bad call in the history of the world. It’s not the first and certainly won’t be the last.

    Frankly, if I’m a Lions fan this morning, I’m equally infuriated with the Lions lack of conviction on the resulting 4th-and-1 and the lack of pass rush toward the end of the game!

    The Lions screwed themselves as badly as the officials for my money.

  100. PI seen and flagged.
    Bryant on the field arguing with official with no helmet.
    No penalty called.
    PI flag picked up.
    TV announcers and TV Official see PI as a good call.
    Very Very odd sequence of events.

  101. I agree with the fact that referees should be held accountable, but am positive this game is fixed. First of all, Referees not knowing all of the rules is a decent explanation of what could happen, but not in this situation. Pete Morelli has been an NFL referee for 18 years. As the announcers said before the game, he is a “veteran referee”. I have seen this guy officiate before and effect out comes of games. All I am saying is that vegas set the line at dallas minus 6 and the total or over/under was 48 points. Let it be noted that according the vegas websites – 75% of people bet on the over 48 points total and 70% on dallas giving 6 points. Vegas won big on both. Also Morelli did a steelers – colts afc championship game a few years back when he reversed a clear interception by troy polamalu 3 times – only to admit after he finally decided on the wrong call that it was wrong. Nfl games are unfortunately fixed and hopefully will lose many fans because its all set up.

  102. It is a huge problem. And the BIGGEST issue is this:

    they call WAY TOO MANY PENALTIES, period. Keep the flags in your pockets.

  103. Manning didn’t start showing his age late in the season….the Broncos found a running game and become a big part of things and they didn’t have to rely on him as much.

  104. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Lions. That said, I could see why that play would be a non-call. There was definitely some contact from the tight end, etc., and the defender’s head does not have to be turned around.

    That being said, the problem is the way it was handled. An announcement, flag picked up, no explanation. That’s a situation where the refs should be huddling together, giving an explanation, then picking up the flag if they felt that was the right call.

  105. Horrible officiating is nothing new to Seattle fans, see Super Bowl XL. And before you scream ‘what about the Packers Hail Mary game,’ that’s true, but it was only one game with replacement refs, not a Super Bowl with regular refs.

  106. The missed PI penalty was bad enough, but when they blew off Dez running onto the field to protest without his helmet on, that just was just a slap to the face.

  107. After seeing all the nit-picking pass interference penalties called this season, there is no doubt that pass interference did occur and was called.

    Review the play…get it right.

  108. A bigger reason why the Lions lost was being outscored 24-6 after the first quarter. A single blown call by an officiating crew does not account for that.

  109. Blaming a loss on the officials is such a tired argument that it is laughable how often the armchair experts bring it up. Penalty flags get picked up all the time, yes if Ed Hochuli had been working the game we would have had a thorough explanation. But bottom line-Jim Caldwell lost the game by not going for it on the 4th and 1. (And they missed the face mask grab pulling the defender along).

  110. Wah Wah Wah…Any of you babies see the film from another angle? Pettigrew actually pulled Hitchens facemask toward him. If anything different was called, it should have been offensive pass interference. And Detroit’s gutless coach could have gone for it on 4th and 1 to give the Lions a chance to extend the drive and go for the win. Lions had plenty of chances to win the game, they just weren’t good enough. No game is won or lost on one play so just accept the fact that the Cowboys are the better team.

  111. Anyone remember when ref Steratore called a TD for his hometown Steelers which was not a TD? Isn’t he forbidden to ref any Steeler game now?

  112. It happened with 8:30 left in the game and the lions were winning. The lions then shanked a punt , let dallas score a td and then turned over the football to end the game. Stop with the one call cost detroit the game. Dallas won that thing at the end. The receiver initiated the majority of the contact anyway.

  113. He had our player by the faceguard and pulling him down so that’s not pass interference and it should have been a faceguard offence against the stupid Lions!

  114. This analysis of the referee issue is one hundred percent accurate. The problem is it makes too much common sense for the NFL. Look, all the current group of owners care about is revenue. Evidence of that can be seen in how they’re going to screw up the postseason schedule just to add another game so they’ll make more money. The referee situation? They won’t begin to care about that until it hits them in their wallet

  115. Great article. I didn’t realize that crews were pieced together like that for the biggest games of the year. That is completely crazy. Something needs to get fixed. Besides the game that is😝

  116. My late father used to say:
    “I don’t see how they play!” as he lamented the plethora of idiosyncratic rules in the NFL.
    There are too many rules and too many screw-ups by the rules enforcers.

  117. please, the Lions are so thankful for the picked up flag. Now they can just point to that one play and use it as an excuse for another let down. Lets ignore the fact that they only scored 3 points in the second half and committed turnovers. but yeah, that one call lost them the game.

    Because you know, if the penalty stood Im sure Detroit would have kept moving the ball and scored (sarcasm)

  118. Although I have never been a ref, I used to be involved with the sideline crew.

    When watching the game on TV, the angle the viewer gets makes it much easier to see the play. Slow motion replays add to the benefit.

    But watching the game at field level is so much more difficult to see everything.

    Given this situation, there is a team of refs that cover each game. These guys are supposed to be the best at what they do but they make really bad errors that do affect the outcomes of games.

    This effect is so blatant sometimes that it begs one to consider the potential that outside forces affect the outcomes of games.

    The NFL must make a correction (ie, enable replay for all plays…thanks BB) to reduce the impact a bad call can alter the game.

  119. Maybe you’re right, but the appearance of impropriety is just as bad, and Blandino being on Jerry Jones’ “party bus” before a playoff game involving the Cowboys looks really bad. And doing that before a game in which an officiating call was blatantly incorrect and went in the Cowboys’ favor looks HORRIBLE.

  120. There was PI, but on Ebron. He grabbed Hitchens facemask. Lions were lucky it wasn’t against them.

  121. I could have seen them call defensive holding on the play due to earlier contact in the route.

    Put away all the Cowboys hate, and this is what happened:

    The LB was trailing the TE and Stafford made a horrible throw that was short and behind the receiver. The receiver had to slow down to try and make the play and the ball hit our guy in the back.

    so yeah, lets bail out the horrible QB and horrible throw with a penalty during a critical part of the game.

    Where are all the people that are always saying to not let the refs control the game, let the players on the field determine it. Um, well the Cowboys did that. It was good coverage and a horrid throw by Stafford, something im sure Lions fans are very used to.

  122. Technically, it was probably the right (non) call. The problem is, similar plays get called as PI every Sunday. Refs are too quick to throw that flag all season long. Maybe the fallout from this play will cause them to revist it with the refs in the offseason and we’ll see more consistency in these calls next year…

  123. With all due respect, I believe the author is over-reacting.

    The pass hit the defender squarely in the back, and the receiver did not make an attempt to reach for it. After the pass hit the defender in the back, the contact was made, which eliminates any need for a pass interference call.

    The only fault I find here is with Morelli not explaining why he picked up the flag. But to use this incident as grounds to say that too many officials are bad at their jobs is baseless. I know emotions are running high, but look at the facts.

  124. There were two bad calls on that play…other than the pass interference, why wasn’t Bryant flagged for personal foul? He is not allowed on the field with his helmet off to argue with the officials.

  125. It hasn’t even been a full 24 hours n I’m already tired of the excuses, the refs got it wrong, n the Lions got robbed story. I don’t think it was PI but if a flag was going to be thrown on dat play, it shoulda been two thrown, one for facemask on Pettigrew which preceded the so called controversial PI on Hitchens, which woulda made the penalties offsetting and a redo of the play. How bout this everybody, the Lions got a big break before the game even started when Suh got suspended then got unsuspened for being a repeat offender of the personal conduct on field policy. Now, if the NFL had it out for the Cowboys to win, or the refs favoring the Cowboys, and oh my favorite Jerry Jones paying off the league(just ludicrous), don’t you think it woulda started with Suh staying suspended. Use your logic there and ponder it a lil, sooner or later it will eventually make sense to you. And last but not least, I’m going to play coach for the Detroit Lions right here, and scene “Fellas, dat call went against us right there but we still have the lead and we been playing good D most of the game so let’s go out there and get this ball back with some solid defense” and scene. Gee whiz, that no call wasn’t the last play of the game, the Lions had ample amount of time to either stop the Cowboys offense which the Lions had a hard time doing in the second half or go score again which the Lions also had a hard time doing in the second half. Cowboys won, accept it and root for the Packers next week…OUT!!!

    Sincerely Realist(also a Cowboys fan)!!!

  126. I’m a packer and dislike the Lions, but that was a horrible call/noncall.

    Blatant PI, Hitchens never turned toward the ball, was grabbing and face guarding. Amazing the flag was picked up with no explanation.

  127. I would agree the issue was strictly incompetence if the next Dallas drive wasn’t wind-aided by a host of calls and non-calls that went in the favor of the Cowboys. Moreover, look at the second half in whole – only two enforced penalties on the Cowboys and both were pre-snap penalties.

    If the NFL wanted to “fix” the game, this is exactly how one would do it. Let the viewer believe it is a competition early and pull the rug out from the losing team near the end. Granted, Caldwell should have gone for it 4th and 1 and Sam Martin is atrocious, but the rest of it screams conspiracy.

  128. NFL = WWF Yes that’s sad and a problem not easily fixed. But even if you accept that for what it is the commercials in prime time and playoff games are absolutely ridiculous! You watch 2 plays and then it’s commercials. There’s a score and then commercials, then a kick off and… more commercials. TV time out? Why? You have so much scoring now with the 2 min. warning, time outs, reviewed plays and quarter & half time breaks. I’m sorry but between the obvious agenda of the refs and the blatant commercialism the games just aren’t fun to watch anymore. Goodell has been a great leader in this avarice and greed but replacing him will not solve it. Turning off you TV probably won’t even solve it. Sadly our childhood game has been taken over by billionaire that are insatiable!

  129. if you look at the whole play, Pettigrew committed illegal hands to the face and a possible facemask penalty against Hitchens, then when the ball got there Hitchens was faceguarding him and he put his left hand on Pettigrews chest, but he didn’t push Pettigrew or grab him, or hold, or change Pettigrews direction…. so it clearly wasn’t pass interference.

    Pettigrew and the Lions got away with illegal hands to the face on that play, but lets face it, every team gets away with something n every game. Part of the game strategy is how much teams can get away with.

    Personally I wouldn’t want a squeaky clean game with a penalty getting flagged on literally every play, because that is what you are talking about if you start demanding Refs be perfect at their jobs, a flag on every play

  130. This is what happens when

    “Protecting the Shield”

    becomes more important than

    “Getting it Right”…

  131. There were several bad calls against the Cowboys earlier in this game, the refs finally got one right.

  132. The rulebook will eventually be the end of the game, not because of what it does but how hard it is to actually enforce. Today the average game has far too many calls subject to change from video review. The purpose of using video was to back up the refs and ensure no calls were blown. Jones was the biggest supporter of the new system. Yet, here he benefits from video not being used. Detroit’s coach isn’t too good at coaching defensively and passed up a great chance with his 4th and 1 call. That pretty much lost the game for him. I can’t remember a season where we more games came down to a coach passing up 4th and short and either getting a bad punt or failed FG. Kelly at the Skins a few weeks ago was another one that comes to mind.

    But, as all good NFL fans know, the Super Bowl is already set anyway. The Cowboys will eventually ‘get theirs’ and lose to Seattle. In the AFC, the Pats broken down offensive line and too old Brady will get beat up by the Ravens who are healthy. The big Ravens weakness, their defensive backs, won’t matter vs the Pats because Brady can’t go deep anymore and, besides, won’t have the time. Same when they play Manning at Denver.

    Looks like they’ll get Seattle back, this time vs the Ravens in the ultimate defensive slugfest. There, the Ravens lack of a legit offense will be exposed.

    The Lions coach pulled the ultimate Lovie Smith and ended up getting beat due to it. He didn’t understand that the refs are a sort of third ‘force’ on the field and need to be coached against as well. By passing up the 4th & 1, he pretty much gave the game away. The Lions settled for FG’s when they should have been pushing the field. Too bad for Lions fans, they have a pretty good team.

  133. Politician = Lawyer
    Referee = Lawyer
    Is there any more despised and corrupted profession then these guys?

  134. Hard to find a weakness on Baltimore? Really? I like this website, but thats awful. Baltimore looked good against Pitt becuase Bell didn’t play. The analysis can end their.

    Baltimore weakness:
    -The secondary – bottom third of passing d.
    -Flacco – average at best this year. Anyone can now throw 4K yards in the NFL – please see Tannehill
    -That receiving corps – Really, not a weakness? So is one smith gonna tear apart revis? While the other tears apart arrington (super under rated CB) while browner roams freely crushing ppl? All it takes is speed to keep up with smith sr. and the pats have it in the secondary.

    Difference maker will be the this year the tides have turned, the pats have the better defense.

    I see a repeat of last years 41-7 stomping of baltimore.

  135. Detroit lost because their offense sucked for the whole 2nd half. Go watch the video of the play and watch as the Lion receiver pulls the Dallas defender’s face mask. Was that not a penalty? Besides, it’s not like a TD was called back like on the bogus holding call on Witten. The Lions had plenty of time to win the game and couldn’t get it done, so go cry about that Lion fan.

  136. I knew someone a few years ago who sold fixed game information. I didn’t really think the NFL was fixed before then. Of course, not all games are fixed, but it’s usually obvious when it is.

  137. There is nothing that can be said by ANYONE that will get myself and many others to believe the Dallas/Detroit game wasn’t fixed in one way or another.

  138. Firing the officials isn’t the answer.

    Fining them is! Fine them until it becomes unbeneficial for an official to keep officiating. They’ll weed themselves out.

    Coaches and players get fined for saying things and their actions, even owners and other team officials.

    So why aren’t the refs fined?!

    Can’t say anything bad about them or their work no matter how putrid it is, and players correctly doing so are fined. So why aren’t these refs that are treated like royalty fined?

    Start fining them and maybe you’ll see fewer fines resulting from post-game pressers.

  139. So everybody continues to ignore the elephant in the room. The NFL appears to have an NBA type problem. Give these guys random polygraphs.

  140. There is too much money in the NFL to have the product on the field regulated by part-timers. It would be easy to set up an Officiating HQ/training facility staffed with more full-time referees than are needed. They could study film, review the good and bad of the previous week, do class work on the rule book, conditioning, etc.

    If teams practice in order to try to perfect what they do on Sundays, why not the officials?

    Come on now, that would mean another union likely and more money coming out of the pockets of owners like Jones. We can’t have that now. Have some heart and compassion, those guys live austerely and have families to support. They can’t have another meddling union taking their profits. Before you know it they’d only be making 20 or 30M each year, and we wouldn’t want to wish that on anyone, having to live on such paltry means.

  141. If any of you so called football heroes has a clue then you would know that the penalty was moot. If you bottomless bumps watched the play you would see that the receiver not only grabbed the defenders face mask but he was pushing him back and down prior to anything else. The correct call was offensive pace interference. Why don’t you pros watch the film and get it right along with the refs.

  142. Broncos fan and I agree with the majority that the Lions got ripped off. Beyond that the thing that makes this shady is nobody got an explanation until Morelli went on the radio to explain. Usually I give Hochuli a hard time because of his elongated explanations of every single call but ironically the situation in this game could have used a Hochuli style explanation!

  143. I’ll remember this game as the Implosion Bowl.

    There should have been offsetting penalties on that play and the Lions would have had 3rd and 1 instead of 4th and 1.

    But that game came down to whoever screwed up last would lose and they did.

  144. Horrible pick up. When the Commissioner has credibility issues, and his lackeys in the media defend him or ignore the problems, conspiracies are gonna fill the void.

    It’s the XFL now, Football plays with WWE scripts/officiating.

  145. Oh, and let’s not forget Bryant on the field, without his helmet, working the refs on that call…not sure which is more mind blowing, that not being called or Garrett allowing Bryant to run around endangering his team with what should have been a 15 yarder for UC!

  146. Well said. Couldn’t agree more. Not a Lions fan, but that was totally messed up. Every and I mean every person watching the game saw Dez Bryant run onto the field and threw their imaginary flags in the air. How was that not called?? Horrible officiating.

  147. I’d like to get mad about this, but I’m having a hard time getting mad, since it wasn’t that long ago that the Cowboys were sanctioned pretty heavily for breaking a rule that everybody knows doesn’t exist.

    The Lions lost that game for many reasons. Get over it, ladies.

  148. I seem to remember when everyone on this site were complaining about the replacement refs and me telling you that the regular refs weren’t any better.

    Again, I hate to say this but I told you so!

  149. Just saw former ref Jim Daopoulos said it was clearly P.I. and he has no idea what they were thinking in picking up the flag but even worse was the no-call for Dez Bryant getting in their face after the play from off the sideline and on to the field. He said it was incredible there was nothing called on that and it bothered him more than the no call.
    He thinks they may have been intimidated by the moment.

  150. I normally can’t stand the word “hater.” It’s one of the most overused words in the internet lexicon, usually employed to stifle discussion when someone lacks a legitimate retort.

    But there really is no other word to describe what most casual NFL fans and members of the sports media are. They’re haters.

    “Romo’s a choker. They’ll collapse, just wait for it.” That’s all some people have said for months. Never mind that the facts and statistics don’t bear this out; it’s an easy narrative to peddle, and it sells big time. Say it enough and it becomes true.

    Despite a 12-4 season when most people predicted 4-5 wins, despite one of the greatest months of December in NFL history, people are still clinging to the narrative, waiting for any miscue or stumble to point to so they can laugh and say “I told you so!” It’s pathetic.

    So when the bogus narrative gets blown up by an awesome playoff comeback and a clutch performance from the “choker” QB, people shift the focus to one single play and claim some secret NFL conspiracy. Never mind that the Lions’ best player shouldn’t have even been on the field. Never mind that the Lions’ receiver had his hand on the defender’s facemask and probably should have been flagged. Never mind the terrible calls in the first half that went against Dallas. Never mind the Dallas D’s stonewall performance in the second half, or Romo’s resilience after getting knocked on his *** all game, or the team’s grit in pulling out the win. Lets all talk about how “the fix is in” and Dallas was gifted the game.

    There really is no other word but haters. It sucks that guys like Romo and Co. can’t get the credit they’re due because of the hate and the narratives, but screw it. Let em hate, cause we’re still playing. On to Green Bay!

  151. The NFL is a billion dollar corporation run by Vegas. I have been watching for over 40 years and the officiating has only gotten worse. It’s all about money, bottom line. Because Americans are too weak to boycott something until it is fixed, the owners will never fix the problem with the officiating. I for one am about to throw in the towel because the out come of far too many games are now decided by the refs and not talent. If at the end of the season your team misses the playoffs by one game and you realize you lost a game because of a bad call or non call,that’s all it takes. They plan on us forgetting week after week. It’s time for us to turn off our T.V.s,

    but we won’t and the calls will get more and more blatant.

  152. You started off by dispelling the conspiracy theories. They aren’t born out of a vacuum they’re fueled by the inconsistency of game to game calls and the perceived favoritism for teams like the Cowboys, Patriots and Broncos (to name a few)

    Additionally pass interference isn’t a new call or a tweaked one. In fact Hitchins’ offense was textbook, I don’t know what more is needed to get that call right.

    There will always be conspiracy theories, just a fact of life. Bottom line, the basis for them is a level of distrust among fans and the NFL, from the Commissioner to Blandino. At its root is an ineffective management system or style that is absent a codified system. If there are no consequences for doing a bad job, you will always do a bad job.

    Like you say a larger problem afoot.

  153. It’s funny how people in the press tell fans to stop whining about the officials —— except when the people in the press whine about the officials.

  154. This says it all:

    “The problem in the NFL is that too many officials are bad at their jobs, the rulebook is overly complex, and the league office stands by and does nothing about it.”

  155. The NFL is rigged. This type of thing happens in every game, there were just more people watching this time. Not a fan of the Cowboys or the Lions, just an NFL fan tired of watching the officials determine the outcome of the games.

  156. First let me say that I’m a Cowboy fan, but Detroit was robbed. The play in question was flagrant! The Cowboy defender never turned to look for the ball and ran straight through the receiver.
    How in the world can the league defend such a horrible call?

  157. The NFL has a big problem… their officials are beyord terrible. It is no fun to watch a game and only look to see if a flag is thrown. The Ravens & Cowboys were given wins in the playoffs. Furthermore… does Chris Collinsworth realize Terrell Suggs threw bleach in a womans face in college? He acts like Suggs is the man of the year. He should be in jail. Goodell is a moron, and the NFL should be investigated for the “abnormalities” of this weekend!

  158. The National Football League is Rushing referees (minorities) up to the pro level with very little. Experience 1 or 2 years before pro that’s why so many bad calls

  159. Pass interference is the most subjective, arbitrary, and inconsistently called penalty in all of sports and it can have a huge impact on a game. It’s ridiculous that it’s not subject to review if the coach is willing to throw the red flag.

    I don’t buy the conspiracy theories because PI calls get screwed up all the time, both for and against every team in the league. Let’s let coaches challenge them.

  160. I strongly agree that the officiating has been awful but I have no sympathy for Detroit . Suh should not have been allowed to play . That decision was equally terrible .

  161. It’s gotten to the point where teams need to be blowing out their opponent so that these bush-league calls don’t hurt them.

    If I went through mini-camp and training camp and preseason plus the grueling regular season, I’d be pissed if my season ended because of a single penalty flag.

  162. It was pass interference–no question about it. I think the Cowboys–starting with Dez Bryant, who walked way out on the field to confront the officials–intimidated the official into picking up the flag. The Cowboy DB not only face-guarded–which is almost always called as pass interference–he pushed the receiver just before the ball arrived, which is clearly seen on pictures.

  163. The officials also need to be full time employees, which they are currently not. During the offseason they can do what the players do — work out, watch film and STUDY.

  164. I love football. I would treat Kickoff Weekend like a holiday. Playoff weekend- whether my team was in it or not was something- I always looked forward to.
    I didn’t watch one snap of any of the 4 games. I am not going to be the last to tune out. I’ve had no interest because I saw this coming.
    I can’t be a fan of something that is arbitrarily officiated. And arbitrarily without explanation. If you read any of the NFL rule book, most penalties are verbose and pages long. That leaves room for Common Sense to slip through the cracks and that’s where the NFL has gone.
    There’s only one other league where officiating is this bad… WWE.
    With the fireworks and intros, these two leagues are not that different.

  165. When you play “not to lose,” you lose. The Lions should have gone for it on fourth and one. Play to win. The PI call was not a factor in conservative play-calling.

  166. the bigger question is , why wasn’t Dez Bryant flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for running onto the field hollering at the ref, with no helmet ? that’s a 15 yard penalty in itself…..1st and 10

  167. @Matt14gg, the official who threw the flag did not call PI for faceguarding. He called it because there was contact. The Head Linesman said there was contact but just not enough, the sad part is that if there is any contact and you don’t get turned around 99% of the time that is easy PI. But in this 1% they didn’t think so, reasons are left for interpertation. Even if you call PI and illegal use of the hands on the Offense for the facemask by Pettigrew then they offset and it is 3rd and 1.

    With that done what about Dez running on the field to argue with the ref, that is not a penalty anymore? He wasn’t celebrating he was arguing and it was clear as day. Sure that will go left unmentioned. All we want is consistency, it’s just sad that the Lions have had some pretty bad calls go against them in recent years.

    1. Calvin Johnson Touchdown/Possession
    2. “Downed” Punt against Cardinals
    3. The PI that was then wasn’t

  168. Donaghy was a rogue….is the mantra of guys like Goodell, Stern and Silver.

    To the other 150 million people that follow either the NFL or NBA, they know better. Both organizations are shameful.

  169. I just saw the play for the first time. Holy flurking shnit. What’s all this talk about face-guarding? That’s a red herring. There was a lot of contact going on. The receiver was harassed by a defender who sensed the ball was in the air but didn’t know where it was. As a Pats fan, we had a former CB who used to get called for this kind of PI all the time (Ellis Hobbs). And they were the right calls.

    This play is going to overshadow everything. The only thing that will make this right is for the Boys to get eliminated in the next round. I know most of the sports world will be rooting for that. Not that the Lions are darlings. Those groin-kicking face stompers probably got some karma, but bad calls make the game even uglier.

  170. I get the call was bad, the defender never turned and ended up getting into pettigrew, but the ball also hit the defender in the back/shoulder, the TE never had a good shot at the ball even if the defender had been 2 ft further back. It was a bad throw, hiding behind a bad call. Like Tate said, you can’t leave it up to the officials.

  171. The NFL is getting harder and harder to watch. The way the game is officiated, makes it tough to stomach three hours of this brand of football. The quality of the on-field product has fallen off drastically in the last 10-15 years and officiating is a big part of it. Do I blame the officials entirely? No. Much of it lies at the feet of NFL brass who make the decisions of how games are called.

    What happened yesterday: the one good game of the weekend was ruined by poor officiating that seemed to not understand how the league wanted the game to be called. The NFL is losing ground in terms of entertaining contests and has become a shell of itself with the lack of truley great teams and great games. Combine all of this and you get a mediocre brand of football that has me this close to not even caring any more.

  172. I am a GIANTS fan. I don’t particularly like Detroit, and you know how I feel about Dallas.

    The Replay I saw clearly showed Pettigrew initiating contact first, and grabbing the Dallas LB by the Face Mask and initiating ALL the contact.

    It was not just a case here of the Defender committing PI.

    Pettigrew initiated the contact.

    It could have been Off-Setting, or Offensive PI as well.

    Where the TRULY messed up was not throwing the Flag on Dez Bryant. THAT is where if you are a Detroit Fan, your real beef should be. That’s not something that should be decided by the Officials having a chat. That’s a clear penalty.

    Totally agreed about the larger message about incompetent officials as well though.

    Where Detroit is probably going to go back and look at this and really want to do some self analysis, is how they never adjusted to Dallas after a strong First Quarter. They came out on Fire, but only got two FGs the rest of the way.

    A 10-Yard Punt, and giving up a 4th down Conversion doesn;t help either.

  173. Looks like the cowboys are getting the same treatment the seasterick seahawks got last year, the NFL is going to help them however they can to get them to the Superbowl and bring in the ratings.

    Well, not completely the same treatment, At least the cowboys are not admitting to cheating and the NFL is ignoring the rules and allowing them to get away with it.

  174. The system is flawed. Anytime obvious mistakes are not (immediately) corrected, there needs to be changes made to that system.

  175. The rule book is convoluted for a reason and it won’t change, either will the system. It helps pull the wool over our eyes and continue the charade that this is an honest and respectable game. It is not and it has not been for quite some time now. Remember the preseason and the league said it was going to crack down on all contact by DB’s well that happened thru the preseason and when it fits into the “agenda”.
    OC has it’s hands deep into the league’s pockets via gambling and it’s NEVER going to change.

  176. That play could have been called a couple different ways, as Pettigrew was clearly holding the defenders facemask for a stride or two, when you see camera shot from behind the receiver.

    But the refs completely blew it with how they handled it. I can forgive Goodell and the NFL for swinging and missing the domestic violence curveball. But the refs have been awful for years, and the NFL hasn’t done anything about it.

  177. It’s gong to be 6 degrees in Green Bay Sunday, maybe, just maybe 7 degrees if lucky. Looks like a ground pounder to me. Advantage, Cowboys! Packers are a one-man-show, with bad rushing defense. Eddie Lacy has proven he can’t last a half in the cold before falling apart.Packers should start Starks if they want to win.

  178. Pete Morelli and Clete Blakeman don’t belong it the league. Both made horrible calls that outright affected games.

    Baltimore sucks. Their biggest offensive production plays in the first half came compliments of Clete Blakeman et al. Hopefully for Pats fans they’ll get a competent white hat behind Brady that understands what offensive holding is?

  179. The inconistency of NFL officiating has its counter-part in CFL, except up here, inconsistent officiating takes touchdowns away that in turn affect the outcome of a game. This year it was our Grey Cup game and, surprise surprise, the CFL was good with that. Both leagues need to get over the parttimer thing and get serious about fulltime officials doing fulltime work. In Canada, the game has improved immeasurably, stadiums are being renovated or replaced, but its the same old, same old when it comes to inconsistent/incompetent officiating. Seems to me in both leagues there is only one way the majority of game officials should ever get into any football stadium – and that’s through the purchase of a ticket! Of course we could also try paying them what they are worth but, oh oh, Houston, we have a problem. There are now such things as minimum wage laws so you can scratch that.

  180. This game was absolutely a robbery and a mockery of all of those of us who just want the players to decide the outcome. Its not enough that the head of officials is partying with the son of the owner of a team he will have to help officiate from NY that upcoming weekend. Its that clearly this whole game and the several “Doneghy” style calls that came with it was predetermined to help a QB who can’t take the pressure like Romo of winning a playoff game. It was a disgrace to watch and only Cowboy fans can feel like they actually won that game fairly. Its atrocious what the league and these refs are getting away with.

  181. Another article he said the line judge had a better view..U kidding me these ref’s are old farts bring in young blood who can see and keep up with the play..Dallas better play better or they won’t have a chance next wk…

  182. So wait, you guys are mad because the refs decided to make the correct call because one had a beter angle? Face guarding is NOT a penalty in the NFL. Hitchen did not lay a hand on Pettigrew until the ball had bounced of his arms and he was PULLED into him by Pettigrew himself,

    If it was anyone but the Cowboys it would not be an issue with any of you.

    Scoreboard still trumps butt hurt.

  183. That was some replacement-official level officiating this weekend. Hochuli was embarrassing as well…..he stooped to Triplette/Bolger/Mike Carey level.

    There is no credibility any more with these incompetent zebras. Any organization that continues to employ Jeff Triplette and Jerome Bolger has zero credibility.

    Total joke.

  184. Another problem: They don’t pay their referees to be full-time employees. If they did, maybe they could spend more time perfecting their work product.

    How cheap can this multi-billion-dollar enterprise get?

  185. The NFL is the worse officiated league of the 4 major sports. Besides having a lot of incompetent officials there is no consistency in applying the rules from crew to crew. The NFL is always one step behind when it comes to fixing rule problems and the league has now become a flag football league as you can’t touch a player without being penalized. What’s amazing about the PI play is that just putting a hand on a receiver after 5 yards is now called defensive holding. If nothing else it should have been a defensive holding call and an automatic first down for Detroit.

  186. How fitting the Colts post-game locker room highlight featured “The Nature Boy” impersonation, getting us warmed up for the 4:40 main event.

    Saturday when America’s favorite ref Ed turned on the wrong mic & told the stadium in Charlotte “Jungle boy said we got it right”…….Party bus Dean steps in & tweets Ed meant to send it to the “wireless mics of his crew” instead of stadium mic.

    24 hours later……nobody knows what happened, they never worked together, we are supposed to forget Dean can push a button tell the head of the crew to pick it up, etc.

    Name another time in NFL playoff history when a “flag” was announced to the world & then picked up without an explanation? How is that a conspiracy???? Wahoo

  187. First and foremost, anyone who wants to say the non-call ws the right call, is nothing short of a Dallas fan that believes Dallas would have lost the game if the call stood.

    There is absolutely no logical explanation as to why the flag was picked up, especially after the call was already announced.

    There is absolutely no logical explanation for Dez Bryant not getting flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct by running onto the field to argue the cal, with no helmet.

    And last but not least, there is absolutely no logical reason for the referees to have missed the blatant holding call on Tyron Smith on Dallas’ final touchdown. They were at least 3 yards in the backfield away from the rest of the lineman, in wide open space, next to Romo. I believe it was Ansah rushing, and he clearly beats Smith, and still got a shot on Romo right after the ball was released. Without the holding by Smith, Romo would have been sacked long before having the opportunity to throw that pass.

  188. All these experts–you all realize that “faceguarding” is legal in the NFL? The refs do the best they can, they are not paid off, there is no fix, or conspiracy. It’s an insult to the thousands who give all they can to win–players, coaches, trainers, staff–to say such. Get a life. Seriously. I hope you all quit watching and talking about football, I really do. That way the rest of us can have normal football conversation in bars and public places without the likes of you parroting some juvenile nonsense you heard on a “blog” like this.

  189. Anyone looking at that play that doesn’t see Pettigrew initiate contact via a facemask, is simply just wanting to hate against Dallas.

    It is clear as day who initiates contact.

  190. That game was rigged at the end to make sure the Cowboys advance. A series of bad calls against the Lions culminated into the pass interference take back that the entire nation saw.

    So the league makes sure their favorite owner/representative team advances. Its a damn shame that the league cheated the Lions that way.

  191. “I believe the Ravens present a real threat to the Patriots this time around in large part because Baltimore is a complete team.”

    While I do consider them a huge threat, this is the first time in the last three playoff games that the Pats are a “complete team”, and I don’t just mean offense, defense (yes, this is a lot better too), and special teams.

    I mean that we did not just lose a critical piece (Welker then Gronk) one to two weeks before.

  192. The NFL does have a big problem: whining fans. Do people not remember when there were no instant replay? When the calls were not discussed between the refs and if one of them saw a foul, then they called it?

    The refs may (or may not have) helped the Lions lose with that call, but if the Lions were going to win, they wouldn’t have had to rely on the refs giving it to them because of a call, either. Had they done what was needed to win, it would have not been an issue. Dealing with imperfection and overcoming bad calls/bad play are signs of a good team and absolutely signs of a championship team. Instead of getting the job done, the refs became a convenient excuse for the reason they didn’t win. The best teams and the teams that win championships are the teams that go on to win *despite* stuff like this!

    When, as fans, did we forget that the refs aren’t perfect, and they are seeing a complete different view of the game then we are sitting at home or in the stands? Unless they somehow come up with robot refs that do not make mistakes (highly unlikely), there is always going to be a chance for this to happen, and it will continue to occasionally happen. Don’t like that fact? Don’t watch football.

  193. The Nfl and Vegas are giving high fives all around. Money, Money and more Money!

    First the Nfl, They have been creamin’ for a ice bowl 2 scenario and they got it. Can you imagine the ratings bonanza that will be Cowboys Packers next Sunday! Huge I tell ya. Sorry but did anyone think they would allow a Panthers Packers Sunday prime time game? Sorry Carolina you’re just not that interesting.

    Second, Vegas takes you fools hook line and sinker with help from their BFF the NFL. First off Cowboys -7. Sucker line of the century! Vegas knows the public is stupid period. Public sees Dallas cruising the last 4 weeks and they have also seen the Lions eek out a few wins and continue their annual tradition of not winning in Green Bay so naturally public idiot says Dallas really really good Detroit the worst playoff team in the history of sports. Thing is is Vegas has Detroit and Dallas as pretty equal teams. This line should be Dallas -3 to -4.5 at most. What happens? Joe public loads up on Dallas -7 at one point 78% of the money and ending up around 70% of the money. Ohh Joe public your soooo smart cuz you know something Vegas doesn’t know right? You know Matthew Stafford is the worst QB ever and he’s like 0-100 on the road against winning teams so its a lock for the Cowboys. You forgot one thing. The Lions don’t have to win this game for Vegas and the Nfl to make money hand over fists off you pour saps. But they know you fools are enamored over Dallas and those 40+ points a game the last month. So they test you -7 Cowboys and the money starts rolling in. The spread gives the Nfl a lot of wiggle room and the Lions get out of the gate fast and stay in front most the day. Note all the calls going the Lions way to ensure Vegas gets theres and Vegas
    is smiling. But now the Nfl needs theirs so the tables turn the calls go the other way particularly on 2 critical drives all but sealing the Nfls side of the deal. Ice Bowl 2!! get your tickets now!

    Bravo Nfl Bravo Roger Goodell

  194. 1st of all, why has that call become the entire focus of the game? It wasn’t that bad of a call, and it didn’t change the game as everyone is claiming it did. The Lions scored 3 freakin’ points in the entire second half! They had the ball with over 2 minutes left and 2 timeouts at the end of the game. They failed to score. They did not lose because of that penalty. It didn’t directly effect the score.

    There were equally questionable calls that went against the Cowboys earlier in the game. There were WAY WORSE blown calls in the Cardinal/Panthers game that DIRECTLY lead to points on and off the board. Why is no one complaining about those calls?

    You’re right about one thing, NFL officiating in incompetent. The solution. HIRE FULL TIME OFFICIALS THAT ARE YOUNG AND ATHLETIC!

  195. The defender is not required to address the ball in coverage. The ball hit the defender prior to contact so it was not pass Interference. The illegal contact on the play should have been called prior to the pass, but no one is talking about that.

    Anyway, that one call didn’t make or break the game for Detroit. When the game was on the line, Detroit folded like a lawn chair.

    I don’t see Dallas winning next week anyway. Does anyone think Detroit was going to head to Seattle and handle the Seahawks without a running game?

  196. I agree with your post on accountability. Something like this is not ok, and even worse was not flagging Bryant for unsportsmanlike conduct for such an obvious violation.

    What is their excuse for that? That they wanted to cut him a break? Inexcusable.

  197. It was a bad call, compounded by the fact the refs handled it poorly. But, when you’re up 14-0, 20-7, etc , you have to get the job done. If one bad call effects the outcome of the game, that’s on you.

    Ravens are a complete team? Pats are gonna steamroll them this weekend.

  198. Remember what’s good for the Cowboys is also very good for the NFL, NFL on FOX, ESPN and more. The Cowboys bring in the bandwagon and casual football fan.

    Need proof? See the NY Yankees.

  199. Face guarding sure may not be a penalty in the NFL but tackling & holding the jersey you miss that many issues & pick up the flag then say nothing as to why is a killer. Incompetence at its finest

  200. A pass interference call wasn’t made against the Cowboys that helped them win a playoff game? NEVER HEARD OF THAT BEFORE…. (Drew Pearson)

  201. No one ever says anything about Pettigrew grabbing Hitchin’s facemask prior to the flag…mistakes were made I admit but human error happens…the Lions with it. They had 8 mins left to stop the Cowboys…4th and 6…no stop…they lost..suck it up cupcakes!

  202. I applaud the writers belief that this is incompetence rather than fixed but I think that is what we must tell ourselves if we want to keep watching the NFL.

    I became a fan in 2003 after feeling the NBA was fixing games. 2005 Super Bowl I watched the Steelers be handed a game with multiple game changing blown calls. It left a sickening feeling but I attributed it me not understanding the rules and having a Seahawk bias as my team lost.

    I have no doubt Lions fans feel robbed because it wasn’t just the controversial call but the lack holding called on Dallas’s offensive line and the tightening up of PI in the 2nd half (they let both teams play in the 1st half). That Detriot team I watched looked like a legit Super Bowl contender. The NFL should be embarrassed

  203. Reminds me of 2010 when the refs admittedly got a couple calls wrong in the vikings packers game. They admitted the calls were wrong and the Vikings should have won that game. The Packers would have missed the playoffs but no, they continue their ref relationship and win the super bowl. I love football and have watched since I was a kid. But this is the most blatant fixing by refs, that I have ever seen. Makes me not want to watch the rests of the playoffs. I get the PI penalty should have been called, so should hands to the face on the lions. But no call for Dezereh running onto the field? At that moment I knew that Dallas was going to win that game no matter what!


  204. I guess this is why your are a reporter and not a ref. Because you would have blown the call. Can you tell me where the PI was. He did grab his shirt about 3 yards from the line but after that Pettigrew probably should have been flagged for offense pass interference for grabbing Hitchens in which Hitchens swiped his arm. After that he faced blocked but he did not interfere. The problem is that Stafford made a bad throw. Instead of lofting the ball up he threw it on a line. So if you want to blame any body blame Stafford for a poor throw

  205. I remember when the replacement refs were in and all everyone did was complain how awful they were and whine about how the “real” refs were so great. They made it seem like the actual officials always got the calls right.

    There was the one big mistake with the Packers and Seahawks (which was terrible but no worse than yesterdays game) but other than that there was hardly a difference. Sure the media made it seem like there was but if you were to go back and watch one of those games objectively there is little to no difference in the quality of officiating between the replacement refs and the “real” ones.

    Bad officiating is going to happen. In any sport. From even the best officials. The only thing they can do is to make EVERYTHING reviewable and have reviews done by an independant official. (someone in a room surrounded by giant HD flatscreens and not a referee looking under a hood)

  206. In defense of the officials, they do have college tuitions to pay for their kids … that extra income is really needed.

  207. Officiating needs a great deal of work no doubt but the biggest issue for me wasn’t that one particular play. The entire first half Detroit’s defense was handling the Cowboys offensive line pretty handily. It was clear that by halftime things were out of hand. The Detroit defense was absolutely dominating the Cowboys offense. The second half looked like an entirely new Dallas offensive line. Few (if any) flags were thrown on the Dallas offense even when there appeared to be very blatant holding penalties. A few times I thought I was watching a WWE match. It is reasonable to believe that halftime adjustments helped reduce the number of times the Lions were getting to Romo but it was night and day when comparing the first and second half performances. Unless Dallas suddenly found five Hall of Fame offensive linemen in the locker room things look suspicious.

  208. A couple of thoughts.
    1. I understand thinking that there is no conspiracy of calls going towards certain teams. But, when was the last time a bad call went against the darling teams of the NFL. When was the last time we saw a play like the Dallas vs Detroit game go against a team like Detroit in a playoff or important game? The NFL darling teams like the Cowboys, Steelers, Patriots, NY teams, Peyton Manning teams continue to get very questionable calls. But its not a conspiracy.
    2. If the NFL wants to put all star refs together in playoffs, lets change the system. Select the all star refs a week or 2 prior to the end of the season. Then let those ref groups ref the most important last 1 or 2 games of the season. This will allow them to at least ref 1 game prior to the playoffs.

  209. I always root against the Packers, and I’m no fan of Seattle either, but one of these home teams NEEDS to win so I don’t have to see any more camera shots of Jerry Jones’ booth and Chris Christie’s awkward celebrating.

  210. Season ending call? Funny, I seem to recall the Cowboys having to drive 59 yards (after a Lions shanked punk no less…guess the officials caused that) and convert a 4th and 6 along the way to get the game winning TD and then having to play defense for 2.5 minutes to win the game. Didn’t know that call caused the Lions defense to falter in crunch time.

    It was also a borderline call and the whole “it was obvious PI” bs is just that- BS. Petigrew made contact with the Cowboys defender as well yet apparently that is fine. I can only guess people saying it was obvious PI seem to think faceguarding is a penalty in the NFL when it isn’t. I am also pretty sure a big reason why the flag was picked up is because the ball was underthrown. It was going to hit the Cowboys player no matter what and the Cowboys player did nothing wrong to be in the position he was.

    Do I think the Lions got the short end of the stick on that call? Yes a little since while it was a borderline call that is often not called, the flag was thrown so it seems like it should have stuck.

    What I do know for certain though is the Lions had a chance to win the game and failed and blaming the call is a lame excuse. It wasn’t like the “fail Mary” of a couple seasons ago that DID win the Hawks that game.

    People need to move on.

    I also like the idiots implying the fix was in or the NFL wanted the Cowboys to win. They knew Caldwell wouldn’t show he had a pair and go for it on 4th and 1 after that call? They knew the Lions D was going to falter on the ensuing drive? They knew the Lions offense would barely move the ball on their final drive?

    Nice to see some people think football is scripted like pro wrestling to believe the NFL knew all those things would happen and waited for that (scripted) play to happen so they could throw the flag and pick it up!

    The stupidity of the human species knows no bounds.

  211. The problem with the NFL is that it is slow, boring, and just a way for corporations to hook lazy, bored Amurkans into wasting countless hours on countless Sundays watching a dangerous “game.”

    I have fully given up on the NFL. I’m not interested in buying a luxury SUV. I don’t drink Coors Light. And I sure as hell would rather do 50 other things than spend four hours watching one junky, scripted game on Sunday.

  212. Just want to correct something… keep hearing that there was no announcement by Morelli… actually there was, it’s just that the Fox broadcast didn’t pick it up. If you go back and watch/listen to it again, you can hear in the background behind Aikman and Buck talking… Morelli saying they are picking up the flag and then the Cowboys’ fans reaction.

  213. Way, way too much hand-wringing over this one call. There were iffy calls throughout the game, calls that stymied the Cowboys just as much as the Lions. But both teams still scored a healthy amount of points, and both had ample opportunities to win.

    And that’s why the “it turned out to be a season-ending call for the Lions” doesn’t ring true. The Lions had not one, but *all three* phases of their game available to help them win after that call. Their offense had the opportunity to advance the ball and score after that call, and again later in the game, and they failed each time. Their special teams had a prime opportunity to pin the Cowboys back, and they shanked a punt. Their defense had chances to stop the Cowboys from scoring, but allowed a touchdown when they really needed to hold them to no more than a field goal.

    So the Lions had every opportunity to win in their hands, and failed. The refs didn’t take that away. Did the call put more pressure on the Lions? Sure it did. But they still had the lead, as they had all game. The Cowboys no doubt felt pressure when they needed to convert a 4th & 6 to keep their hopes alive, and they did it. When they needed to score a TD on a 4th & goal, and they did it. When they had to overcome the bad calls that went against them, and they did it.

    Saying that refs getting calls wrong is a problem is like saying QBs throwing interceptions, or running backs fumbling, is a problem for the NFL. You want the human element, you get human error. We could have computer analysis of every single play and eliminate all human error, but at the end of the day I prefer having this remain a human game.

    However, I’m all for additional training, rule simplification, and having full-time referees.

  214. The nfl needs to replay that game apologize to detroit and fire those officials period.there is nothing else to say that was the worst officiated game this year there was no excuse for them unless they admit the nfl is fixed

  215. Perhaps if the Steelers would have gotten jobbed, screwed over, and lost Super Bowl XL on bad calls instead of the South-Alaska-where’s-Seattle Seahawks, the NFL would have fixed these issues a long time ago. It won’t get fixed until it costs New England, Dallas, New York or Jerrah something huge.

  216. Yes, clearly genius detective fans, the NFL is favoring the Cowboys by putting them into the playoffs and advancing them. I mean, they have never missed the playoffs in recent years have they?

  217. @obithejedi – “It is reasonable to believe that halftime adjustments helped reduce the number of times the Lions were getting to Romo but it was night and day when comparing the first and second half performances. Unless Dallas suddenly found five Hall of Fame offensive linemen in the locker room things look suspicious.”

    Not suspicious at all. There have been so many back-and-forth games like this this season that this isn’t unusual at all. (Heck, the Colts practically make a habit out of it.) What happened, to my eyes, is that the Lions defense was gassed. They were playing very well but very intensely, and that worked okay so long as the offense was humming along. But the Lions only scoring 3 points in the 2nd half kept their defense on the field a lot longer, and you could see them getting worn out and out of breath. Even then, Dallas didn’t steamroll them, they just made more big plays where it counted.

    The Cowboys have the best OL in football, but it’s also a young one, so getting slammed by an unfamiliar team and then adjusting to their Pro Bowl form seems straightforward.

  218. Regarding Packers-Cowboys next week – I’m not sure the Cowboys will have as hard a time as you think. The big problem for the Cowboys this week was dominating line play, offensive and defensive, by the Lions. That won’t be as much of an issue with the Packers, who rely more on individual skill players, which the Cowboys have shown they can handle (See: Seattle, Indianapolis, Philadelphia).

    The Packers will be a handful, for sure, but I think they lack what gave the Cowboys so much trouble yesterday, and that’s going to help prevent Dallas from getting in a hole as they did against Detroit.

  219. Was Blandino instructing the non-call? Somebody instructed the non-call and somehow I doubt that it was the guy who threw the flag.
    Who made the decision? Was he instructed by someone? Who instructed it? Does Blandino support the non-call? Why?
    Roger Goodell needs to ask some pretty pertinent questions, because it appears that this game was fixed for Dallas to win.

  220. The fact that Blandino was on Jones’ party bus is very significant and should not be allowed. This stinks of corruption, and is the beginning of the end of the NFL.

  221. Face guarding is only a rule in college. He also graves his facemask. It was the right call we’re on to Green Bay

  222. Let’s get some facts straight here:

    1. It was NOT just “face guarding” Hitchens had his left hand ON the receiver before the ball got there.

    2. There was NO “face mask grab by the receiver” as some smoke-screen apologists are trying to claim.

    3. The defender was lost, beaten and had his back turned which almost always results in a flag.

    This was simply inexcusable.

  223. While I disagree with the call, officials pick up flags all the time and it wasn’t the worst DPI I’ve ever seen. What really baffles me is how Dez Bryant wasn’t hit with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike for running onto the field to scream at the officials with his helmet off.

  224. Packers just got scared bc they have to play them Cowboys, who’s 8-0 on the road. And I say the Boycows will beat up that soft Rodgers and win at Leak Beau field too.

  225. This is justice for the NFL inconceivably reversing the decision to suspend Suh based on his ridiculous explanation of his feet being too cold to notice he was stepping on a player not once but twice….and apparently to cold to even acknowledge said player pushing him from behind.

    At least the Lions got to see a playoff game for what will likely be the last time in another 10 years.

  226. I agree with this article. However, I believe you are wrong in stating that the call cost the Lions the game. What cost the Lions the game was the following:
    1. Not being able to score a touchdown after the 1st quarter.
    2. The highly touted defense could not stop Dallas from scoring 24 points.
    3. Pass interception by Stafford that took a possession away.
    4. The highly touted defense could not stop Dallas on the game winning drive.
    5. The highly touted defense could not stop Dallas on a 4th and 6.
    6. The Lions inability to score with a 1:52 left in the game.
    7. The Lions fumble the ball (recovered by the Cowboys) Cowboys fumble the ball recovered by the Lions and they couldn’t take advantage of that.
    8. The Lions final fumble that secured the Dallas win.

    Although the call was possibly a bad call and probably affected the game it did not determine the outcome of the game. Lions still had a 3 point lead and were not able to stop Dallas. The Lions failure to execute towards the end of the game cost them the game.

  227. two words; “tuck rule”

    just enough to sway the outcome
    good job nfl,
    not nearly as obvious as in the past
    just wondering what your next move was if the lions hadn’t collapsed at that point

  228. Whether or not games are fixed by officials, having the perception that games are fixed is just as bad for the league.

    Football should not be like wrestling.

    The NFL better get on this. Public perception will be costly for the league.

    One thing the NFL could do is hire Condie Rice to be Czar of Officials.

    It would be a similar move to organized baseball hiring Judge Landis as its first commissioner after the 1919 Black Sox scandal.

  229. It’s 11:36 and I just check the score again, still 24-20 Dallas, I guess it’s time to move on…

    By the way a couple of games ago Odell Beckem, did not get flag for a helmet off (but did get fined for it), however he was a player on the field of action.

    Stop crying and move on.

  230. Thank you MDS!!! Well said. The lions and their fans had their hearts ripped out because of incompetent officials and the arrogance of the NFL

  231. I agree that the game likely wasn’t fixed, and that Blandino being on the Dallas party bus schmoozing it up with ownership is a coincidence.

    I also feel that a game does not come down to one play.

    With that being said, ANY member of the NFL brass, especially the head of officiating, should EVER be in a social situation like that with the ownership of NFL teams. It’s grossly inappropriate. Ownership of an NFL team, having the NFL’s head of officiating out on a party bus, tearing up the town looks really really really bad.

    Then the fact that the same team was on the good end of a blown call, that DRASTICALLY affected the game’s outcome, on national TV, also looks horrible.

    They might be a coincidence, but the 2 things look really really really bad, and what now the NFL is going to have to answer some tough questions.

    They made their bed, now Goodell and Blandino get to lie in it.

  232. Sure, players get cut every week when they screw up. At the same time, the best defenders miss yackles, the best corners have passes completed against them, and the best quarterbacks throw interceptions. The best quarterbacks in the game complete 65-70% of their passes and that’s considered incredible. I get upset about bad calls against my team, but to say refs should be fired if they aren’t perfect doesn’t make sense either.

  233. Wow, yeah…I would hate to see bad calls happen consistently in every game. I mean that has never happened before.

    C’mon…people, get a grip this morning.

  234. Cris Carter, who you would think was interferred with on every pass he didn’t catch, said it was NOT pass interference because the ball was short. Said if Pettigrew had stopped his route and gone vertical, he would have deserved the call. That’s enough for me to say it was a good non-call.

  235. The solution or at least one way to improve the issue is to have everything reviewable and to let teams keep their challenges if they win their’s (if I have two a half and win the first one, I still have two) and make sure that every challenge is looked at in NY by the head of the referees.

  236. Why not make “questionable calls” that may require verification be a part of the whole “replay” review?

    I’m neither a Cowboys or a Lions fan but as a football fan, that good game, until that call, was ruined by the refs.

  237. I’ve watched pro football for a long time. I watched Lombardi coach the Packers. I’ve watched since before the first Super Bowl.

    I don’t believe that in that entire time of watching pro football have I EVER seen a flag picked up without explanation, especially when the foul was so obviously correct in being flagged.

    They have a problem all right. Dishonesty from the owners and Goodell, resulting in unfair and provocative decisions then expected to be believed by the masses as a “mistake” after the fact.

    My belief is that the referee didn’t open his mic to explain because he totally was against overturning the call, thereby putting the issue SQUARELY in the laps of the NFL bosses and their lapdog.

  238. Things I really dont care to hear about the day after an official made a bad call:

    One of the refs from NYC justifying the call which happens 100% of the time

    The phrase “The NFL has to do something about this”

    This has been the song for the last few years and nothings changing.

    these rules should be simplified similar to: if the player is not looking for the ball and grabbing the receiver its pass interference. other than that its a no call.

    hits to the head have to be a hit to the head and evidence should have to make it stand, not overturn it.

    That is all.

  239. Hopefully, the NFL referees and the league aren’t turning into baseball where the umpires think THEY the entertainment and absolutely refuse to overturn any calls no matter how blatantly wrong. No amount of arguing will change their minds. Replay is the only way.

  240. This also wasn’t the only mess up. The only reason it was a big deal versus the others is because the flag was thrown before it was rescinded.

    But just like that WAS PI, there were other bad calls that had an effect as well. Like in the ARI vs CAR game.

    Players and teams can overcome these, but sometimes it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

    Though these situations crop up from time to time, so it’s not like these are the only teams screwed. There’s a long list of teams over the years screwed by bad refs in the NFL, and an even longer one when you add in other sports. It just sucks when it happens, and we should strive to eliminate as much of it as we can.

  241. If a pass interference call is not reviewable, then why did the head referee allow another official to overrule the call? That sure sounds like a review to me.

    The NFL may not be fixed (maybe), but for the amount of revenue it produces it sure is incompetent.

  242. Did everyone miss the fact the Lions TE had a hold of the defenders facemask pulling him into him?! Try to turn your head with your facemask being pulled. Braced himself by putting arm out to touch his shoulder. Good Pick up of flag.

  243. olcap says:
    Jan 5, 2015 12:08 PM
    I’ve watched pro football for a long time. I watched Lombardi coach the Packers. I’ve watched since before the first Super Bowl.

    I don’t believe that in that entire time of watching pro football have I EVER seen a flag picked up without explanation, especially when the foul was so obviously correct in being flagged.

    They have a problem all right. Dishonesty from the owners and Goodell, resulting in unfair and provocative decisions then expected to be believed by the masses as a “mistake” after the fact.

    My belief is that the referee didn’t open his mic to explain because he totally was against overturning the call, thereby putting the issue SQUARELY in the laps of the NFL bosses and their lapdog.

    Yes, this is really the issue. Bad calls are made, or not made, all the time. This particular issue had unusual elements to it that stink. It reminds me of a college game about 30 years ago where the reffing was so terrible that there was something fishy, and the next day the refs admitted they fixed the game. I don’t know if there is was a fix here, from the NFL to La Cosa Nostra, but it has a feeling that something was not right. It COULD simply be that every game seems to have a different tolerance to how much contact there can be, sort of like a strike zone for an umpire, and for THIS GAME, the action was not a penalty (i.e. there was other such contact that was let go, so this particular play should have too). And it’s not something you can readily explain with opening a whole other can of worms, and so further explanation is given. But on THIS play, there was ALREADY a hold, albeit a small one, but a jersey stretching hold, then the push on the receiver’s left shoulder before the ball arrived. A flag IS thrown, then picked up, and NO FLAG on Dez Bryant on the field. Just terrible reffing inside and out, and I just can’t have the feeling of a fix being in. It makes the whole thing pointless.

    Simply, just too smelly of a situation.

  244. Here’s my conspiracy theory and you can choose to believe it or not. The Lions employ one of the most hated defensive lineman in the league. That lineman was heavily fined and suspended by the league last week only to have the suspension overruled by an independent arbitrator (not employed by the league) allowing him to play yesterday–get where I’m going with this? And given that the league disgraced itself in so many ways and on so many levels this past summer with the Ray Rice scandal including from a CREDIBILITY standpoint, who’s to say that the league did not influence this crew to get this lineman being that it lost to him administratively?

  245. The problem is the bigger market teams, or the teams that have a more compelling story, (Patriots, Steelers, Saints, Green Bay & Dallas) seem to get the calls and non calls go their way.

  246. Lets assume Hitchens does get his head turned around what happens then? He sees an underthrown pass heading straight between HIs numbers and picks it off. The pass wasn’t catchable so while some of you complaining about it always being PI when the defender doesn’t turn his head its never PI when the pass isn’t catchable. Of course to assume he does get turned around you have to first assume the receiver isn’t holding his face mask.

  247. Calling the refs incompetent and assuming there is a magical well of better refs replenishing itself somewhere kind of shows a lack of understanding. The ref gets one shot from one angle to make the correct call, all while watching usually more than one thing at a time, and everything is at full speed. While the call wasn’t good, we’ve already witnessed what happens when we replace refs willy-nilly. It’s certainly easy to get the right call watching the slo-mo replay from different angles.

    If this is going to become a big deal, then the only alternative is to expand the review system.

  248. The sad part of this whole situation is the fact that we are talking about this call instead of what was probably the best of all of the wild card games this weekend.

    NFL has some serious PR work to do.

  249. the whole what is reviewable is screwy. There was some game earlier this year (not an important game) where the reviewresulted in a penalty called so I thought that EVERYTHING was reviewable in 2 minutes from upstairs but clearly not.

    Totally right that the bottom grade refs need to go.

    It doesn’t help when the head of officiating is partying on Dallas stripper party bus before the game. It was a happy ending for Dallas and?

  250. I am a Dallas fan and This is called all day on every team but because Lions had the momentum the flag was pick up this is like getting kick in the groin and trying to finish running the race. now Dallas win against the Lions will always be Questionable.

  251. I don’t think I have ever agreed with an article as much as I agree with this one. I wish every single fan of every single team would send this article to Roger Goodell. Then maybe they’d get the point.

  252. that same exact play was called PI the night before in Pittsburgh on more than 1 occasion, no face guarding BS. The league has a serious issue with it’s rules and refs and the sad part is Goodell will do nothing about it.

  253. Bottom line a billion dollar industry like the NFL needs full time refs. PERIOD. And the playoffs refs should be whole crews. Not this hodge podge crap they do now with guys who have never worked together. Its really a joke now. The rules also need to be backed down some. This is football, not cricket. You need to protect players to an extent, but theyve made it so its even worse. Sure theres less concussions now but christ theres a record of guys on IR because of lower problems. Blown out knees and such because now defenders just attack low.

    Repeal the whole above the head rule. Its ridiculous. Keep helmet to helmet but if a receiver ducks, than oh well. Its his fault. Dont flag that kind of crap. Thats whats getting guys taken out at the knee. Whats harder, a head inside a helmet or a unprotected joint? Get better helmets also. Force players to wear the better helmets or make them sign a waiver that youre not responsible for their health.

    List goes on and on.

  254. If Dallas beats the Packers, I cannot wait to see what the excuses will be since we all know the Cowboys NEVER win because they are the better team. For 60 years, it has always been because of a bad call, lucky play, etc. I am sure the call so traumatized the punter than it is why he only punted the ball 10 yards the next play. So all of you are really gonna argue that the one call is the ONLY reason Dallas won? Nice to know there are constants in the universe, like all the Cowboys haters whining and making excuses…

  255. coltzfan166 says:
    Jan 5, 2015 7:11 AM

    Maybe the reason the NFL has bad referees is because no one wants to be a ref. They get no respect, no one likes them, no one focuses on the good calls they make (just the bad ones), and get get berated for every little bad call they make. With that said, does this sound like a job you would want to have?

    As a high school and college official for 20+ years, I cringed when I saw this unfold yesterday.

    Here is what I see:

    1 – The NFL Rule book changes more often than hotels change their sheets. That’s part of it….then add that there’s special NFL only rules that are mind-boggling and that rule book is like trying to read hieroglyphics on a cave wall. These guys get to that level by being the best in college after years of working to get there and then come to the NFL where the rules are clear as mud. We have had an average of 10 rule changes or revisions just at the high school level every year for the last 5 years. Most revolve around changing NFL and/or NCAA rules, which trickled down. (The Horse Collar tackle for example.)

    2 – The NFL keeps tinkering with things too much. The rules committee, the playoff committee, the doughnuts for Holmgren committee, too many committees. Leave the game alone…it’s like politicians who are hell bent on making new laws, even if they seem wrong. Do they realize the trickle down from that level continues to youth / pee-wee / pop warner? They can’t possibly realize it or have forgotten it….or could care less.

    3 – I don’t agree with age being that much of a factor. Most of these NFL crewmembers are in better shape than 95% of the people reading this. They brought the officials on as full time guys, yet Hochuli and the like I am sure are still doing their other jobs and don’t plan on giving that up. Find the article on Gene Steratore that’s out there and see what an NFL official goes thru every day. I guarantee most people would freak if they knew what kind of stress and scrutiny the NFL officials deal with. And they do get upgraded, downgraded and suspended or worse.

    4 – Respect. There is little to no respect for the officials, and some has been brought on it by themselves. Dez Bryant would’ve had a flag at his feet with every ref crew I know yesterday. You can’t continue to let the guys get treated like they do by players and then expect them to uphold hold the law. Coaches should be able to jaw, they’re not doing their jobs if they aren’t…outside of Jim Harbaugh’s ridiculous antics….it’s part of the game in any sport. You have to deal with it or don’t get into officiating.

    5 – Probably the most glaring of them all…..the playoff crews are a mixed bag of who’s who and the “all-star game” of officials at their respective positions now that the playoffs started. These crews work and travel together all year during the regular season and then when the biggest games of the year start, 7 guys are basically working with strangers. That’s a BIG problem. It’s like making the Seahawks swap some roster spots with the Raiders for the playoff run. Mind boggling to me.

  256. Picking up the flag and NO CALL is one thing we can disagree about all day, but the rules are clear and a penalty should have been called against dez bryant for running onto the field to argue with the ref with NO HELMET ON when he wasn’t even on the field at time of play. all the ref did was wave him back off field no flag….how can one defend refs on this easy rule to follow? ……and you say there was no fix in? if it looks like a duck,walks like a duck ,it’s probably a duck.

  257. But, as all good NFL fans know, the Super Bowl is already set anyway. The Cowboys will eventually ‘get theirs’ and lose to Seattle.


    and the Moon landings didn’t happen, and there was a conspiracy about 9/11….

    come on…..

    and how are 2 NFC teams going to play in the superbowl guy?

    The Cowboys are looking strong and it’s probably their year

  258. There’s no conspiracy about bad calls. They’re products of incompetent officials and an overcomplicated rulebook –

    Kind of an ignorant SUBJECT line isn’t it? I can understand the fans being heated and throwing out conjecture. But coming from a source like this…it is just bad.

  259. Take the mysticism and hocus-pocus out of the game…simplify the rulebook so a 4 yr old could ref a game. Then allow challenges on penalties. Set a limit on challenges so the game doesn’t become a jeopardy theme song….

  260. a problem, ya think?

    the bigger question IS why has the cowboys offensive line been allowed to continuously hold each and every play ALL SEASON LONG, even with Detroit NOTHING but holding from that line, UNFLAGGED?

    they PI’d in seattel and got away woth a win that way as well, what did the league say about it? “sorry but you have to live with it”

    thats all they care about thier fans and teams, “sorry you have to live with it” no, we are taking steps to correct it? um were working on it? live with it?

    GFY Goodell, see you in hail maggot

    the NFL is a JOKE and is now on par with the WWF

    with clowns like fakeman, chris and the coach its a JOKE even to listen to it, I’ll twiddle my thumbs form now on, its MORE entertaining and quite honestly, a whole lot more LEGIT

  261. I used to be a rabid football fan once in my life, but from watching a multitude of games, I have witnessed that certain teams get better calls than others. Cowboys, Patriots, get beneficial calls whereas teams like the Raiders, Bills usually get the crappy calls. The author of this article has some good points, about some people are just bad at their jobs, and the NFL does nothing about poor refs. Now I only watch some playoff games, and the SB for the party it brings./

  262. Follow the money.

    TV was talking about this year’s Ice Bowl before Dallas and Detroit played.

    Sure, if Detroit were up 17 it would have been too obvious for the refs to throw it. But tight games are obviously massaged towards the most profitable result.

    NFL is becoming as bad as the NBA which is no longer watchable.

    Email the NFL.

  263. The lions only scored 3 points in the second half. Who says even if they get the penalty they score. They maybe kick a field and romo still comes down and scores a Td to win by 1. Also 4 and 1 the lions maybe should of gone for it to try and seal the victory. Stop your crying and get ready for Cowboys vs Packers.

  264. Congrats Cowboys! Enjoy this week because after Sunday you’ll be back to sour stew! You have about as much chance of beating GB as Detroit did in week 17.

  265. im sick of the lions fans and commentators complaining about the non call, all of those people need to look closely at the footage of pettigrew grabbing the face mask of the defender that wasnt called either that should have been a penalty.

  266. I’m sick of hearing the whining and complaining of NFL some fans regarding calls. Even with replay reviews holding up the games, they still aren’t happy with the officiating.

    I think it is a reflection of our current society’s expectations of perfection even in judgment calls. It’s getting ridiculous.

    Missed calls have always been part of the sport. Go back to the Ice Bowl championship game between Dallas and Green Bay and the game deciding QB sneak by Starr. Careful analysis shows that guard Jerry Kramer was actually offsides. Fans would throw a fit today.

    See life isn’t fair and NFL games aren’t always going to be fair either. Get over it!

  267. Jim Caldwell should have taken his team and stood on the middle of the field (that’s right, on the STAR) in protest… hell, they were going to lose the game anyway the call just went against them… And NOBODY not nobody said anything about Dez Bryant coming onto the field from the sidelines without a helmet.

  268. “Missed calls have always been part of the sport.

    Are you serious! Did you even see this game?… this was not a “missed” call, ineptness and incompetence on display… and the entire world saw it.

    …missed calls have always been part of the sport… what a joke.

  269. You mean Jeff Triplette is still in the NFL ?!?!
    I remember when he couldn’t get a coin toss call correct on a Thanksgiving Day game.
    NFL reaps what it sows.

  270. As long that there is gambling, the NFL will continue to have incompetent refs. I think the Lions was robbed. The Cowboys stole this one. It will be interesting how the refs official the Green Bay Packers game, it will probably be more of the same. The NFL wants the Cowboys in the Conference Championship game and Super Bowl, for those high TV Ratings, the Cowboys bring.

  271. That call was a travesty. Bill Ford needs to ask for an investigation into this whole situation. And then when Roger G denies the request, he should tell him that Ford is going to cancel the $250 million in advertising that Ford does every year during the football season. Hit them where it hurts, in the pocketbook.

  272. @xactd says: Jan 5, 2015 9:29 AM

    The National Football League is Rushing referees (minorities) up to the pro level with very little. Experience 1 or 2 years before pro that’s why so many bad calls

    Dude… Pete Morelli is a white man…

  273. I am one of the few fans who enjoyed the replacement referees, because I thought they made the game more entertaining to watch. I knew they would blow calls and I expected it. It reminded me of the old football follies films. The coaches an players reactions to the bad calls were great too. Plus, with a higher number of blown calls per game there was a greater chance they would even out over the course of the game. Now, with the regular officials, one bad call can be a clear turning point in a game.

  274. How I’ve missed these Cowboys haters get togethers where all go hysterical about a Cowboys win and each one gives a testimonial about how bad the Boyz are. The good old days are back! Lets get real, nobody knows what would had happened if the Lions had gotten the ball. What we know is that in 3 subsequent possessions they couldn’t move the ball and fumbled twice, we also know that they were able to score only 3 points and run only 140 yards of offense in the second half, but of course, if they’ve gotten the ball on that particular call, they would have been unstoppable, right? The true is that haters are going to cry and moan if the Cowboys win or celebrate and cheer if they loose, either way, you’re thinking Cowboys. Love it!

  275. I go on the Record to ADMIT ,
    that during one point, it seemed like
    the refs were scrutinizing Everything the Lions
    did, and Called EVERYTHING.
    It was getting pretty obvious.

    I was like “wow, we’re getting a lot of love today”.

    But, as for that 1 call that was picked-back-up….
    I thought, at 1st that is was a bad call,
    but then listening to the Commentators (Aikman and whoever the other guy was)
    I was like “ok, it’s a penalty, they still have to score a TD to win. And we Still get the Ball back.”

    Then they picked it up, and I was like ,
    “oh! Well, whatever, OK. I guess I was right in
    the 1st place. ? Whatever. We’re gonna win after-all”.

    So.. if anything… that call only CEMEMTED the win.

    I actually watched the game with the Perspective :
    The Referees are on Cowboys’ home turf,
    and are making sure the ‘Dirty-Playing’ Lions
    aren’t allowed to Slide on anything.

    Unfortunately, keeping too close of an eye on the Lions and SUH…
    Caused them to Miss Plenty of Cowboys’ mis-cues.

    I feel bad for the Lions, and also for SUH, (I don’t think he stepped on Rodger’s leg intentionally)
    but … if Suh had not had such a BAD reputation,
    All of this might have been avoided.

    In the End… I’m a COWBOYS Fan,
    and I’m happy to be moving-forward.

    Next Stop: GREENBAY. ……

  276. pjhcfp says: Jan 5, 2015 7:03 AM

    That’s convenient to say that this call caused the Lions to lose. Bad calls happen all the time and there was still plenty of time after this call for both teams to get the football again. So, unfortunately that’s a cop-out to the rest of the game. To me, the next play, the shanked punt that traveled about 15 yards, was the play that turned the momentum clearly in Dallas’ way. Let’s see if the punter is fired today, as your article suggests will happen.

    You do realize that punt would have never happened had it not been for that “blown” call right?

  277. I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. Trying to be as objective as possible in journalism and thus setting aside all the speculative conspiracy theories which cant be proven as Mike Florio has rightly done here in his piece, as he himself pointed out, it is the incompetency of certain referees going unchecked which is an objective issue here. Its not that refs cannot blow calls–they all do. They’re human. Nevertheless, it’s when they blow calls that are so clearly evident to the fans and even to commentators and fellow referees that is the issue, demonstrating either legal blindness, insanity, or just an insufficient amount of mental competency to be an NFL referee. I mean, even aside from whether or not Morello should’ve thrown the flag and announced a PI (which the majority of us think was the right call), and even aside from him then changing his mind and picking up the flag, for him to then just whistle for the next play without first making another announcement that he had nullified his former PI call if not also explaining why he was doing so, well, how can that not be clear evidence of incompetence? And how can the league just let such behavior by a referee go on without doing anything about it in terms of firing him or at least suspending him from working the rest of the playoffs until his conduct and competency is sufficiently evaluated? How can the NFL allow this? I don’t get it. I just don’t get it.

  278. Good grief, can we stop with the conspiracy…JJ paid the refs …theories. People cannot possibly be that gullible can they?

  279. NFL is rigged. Thank you for the entertainment but i am cutting the rope now. I boycott the NFL and now i will watch cricket racing.

    Blandino, Goodell and the head ref were probably on Jerry’s bus partying. Check their bank accounts, signed “Jerry.” Just like the San Fran game last year against the Seahawks, checks signed “Allen.”

  280. Every game has turning points and momentum changes. In the Dal/Det game, the PI changed call is being called a game changer. I disagree. Next play could have been the game changer for Detroit by going for it on 4th and 1 and continuing their drive, but instead they punted 10 yds, and THAT was the game changer for the Cowboys.

  281. The call is so bad that it makes it a Don Dendinger type of horror, the difference is that Denkinger’s was in the finals, the MLB equivalent of the Super Bowl.

    What made it more or a criminal act is that a receiver from Dallas came off the bench’sidelines to argue with the official in the middle of the field, without wearing a helmet. He was not involved in the play and was never going to be involved. That is another 15 yard penalty so Detroit should have gained the PI plus 15… game over, Dallas is finished for the year.

    For the head of the officials to be in the Jones Party Bus prior to a big game shows what this league is all about. Bush and more bush and Goodell is as corrupt as Caligula and Nero combined. And of course, he gets protected by the like of Kraft in New England and Jones in Dallas. Look at the fines New England drew for twice breaking the video tape rule… a slap on the wrist. New Orleans’ coach gets suspended for a year for something that is part of the game and it is still going on today.

    Then worse is that from that cancelled PI by the referee, the ref. crew got in a mood to drive that ball into the end zone with Romo and not a 1 call again went against Dallas and several went against Detroit. Don’t tell me that on a many play drive those offensive linemen are not holding a little at least because it happens in every play. They had no desire to correct the horror of their calls, the wanted that to be a Dallas win perhaps because they got into the mood with the crowd.

    Do we really live in the greatest country in the world. Not if we go by Goodell and his NFL… oh, and so also we have that little thing in Washington called Congress which has done the least of any Congress in a hundred years or more. I am just saying and I am not even a Detroit fan.

  282. Full in-game officiating oversight where bad and missed calls can be instantly corrected is the only solution. Every play should be quickly reviewed and penalties called/corrected for anything missed on the field.

  283. ROFLMAO!! All of this whining and crying from the same clowns who were running their yaps about how (due to the league REVERSING Sue’s suspension, the big bad crybaby SUE) They would just STOMP the Cowboys. Now, here they are wailing away like little girls over one call that DIDN’T go their way. YOU POOR LITTLE THINGS! There were SEVERAL calls and no calls that DID go your way but OMG that one DIDN’T!!! So OMG the league is BROKEN and MUST be fixed!!! Hey “Black and SUE” division, these LADIES are an embarrassment to the game!

  284. Hey PFT,

    My sunday basketball game the refs blew a number of calls, wanna throw them under the bus? Do an audit of any game, any profession, and you will find a number of missed calls.

    It is very much part of the game. Why do we keep complaining about something that will be in the game as long as humans are involved? The best way to avoid this problem as a team is to be far enough ahead that one call at the end of a game doesnt matter.

    Simply there was a call that affected a team that gave the game away well before that call was ever made because they didnt come out fired up for the second half.

    4 Quarters of football and they played 2.

  285. The postseason’s about the best teams advancing, not individual players. That’s for the Pro Bowl. You’d think the NFL would see the benefit in treating postseason officiating the same way: Advance the highest performing officiating teams, instead of mixing and matching persons from separate units. I don’t know why they can’t see that makes sense.

  286. I’ve railed on this before: if we want to improve the level of officiating in the NFL then we should rely on technology: instrument the ball, field and players and remove the referee from as much of the situation as possible. It should have gone like this:

    * Contact sensors detect player contact
    * Field sensors determine it occured beyond 10 yds
    * Accelerometers determine it is not incidental
    * Helmet sensors confirm that Hitchens helmet was not rotated beyond the point where it can be assumed he was looking for the ball

    This is all processed and the call is made within milliseconds. Coach and/or ref can challenge but need enough video evidence to overturn.

    I, for one, would welcome our new digital officiating overlords.

  287. I agree except for the part about using colleges best officials. The NCAA and NFL are two completely different entities and the NFL would have no right to just swoop in and take the NCAA’s best officials. This is what happened when they had the referee strike.

  288. I do not blame the refs one bit for making a mistake there, I do blame the League rules that the refs cannot use instant replay as a resource, which would allow them to correct any miscall. The refs are human and will make mistakes… their job is about absolute perfection, but are not allowed to use the tools needed to do their job. Fire the refs?! No, they are not the issue, time to look at the rules the Officials have to deal with.

  289. The solution is right in front of everyone, and it recently got even better with high speed 4K video capture.

    Let the refs call it as they see it on the field, but keep a “jury” of replay officials on duty to correct mistakes.

    Simple as this.

  290. Bad calls happen. Atrocious refereeing, however, can be improved. I like his suggestions. Worse refs are gone based upon weekly game evals, new ones brought in.

    At same time, yes, the rule box is a disaster. I’m 63 and better looking than ever, and I don’t know what a fumble or a catch is anymore. Ridicullous. I get reducing head-on collisions, But let the girls play. Imagine going back to the original softer surface of grass, helping to eliminate the impact of helmet and head on artificial turf, aka concrete.

    No senior league official should be in social contact with any team owner or staf during the season or playoffs.

    Lastly, I don’t like machines taking over for the human judgement factor. Not how the game was designed, not how it or any professional sport should be played or subjected to. For all the technology available, this play was still blown. So a new commissioner isn’t a bad idea.

  291. @ irishmanknowsall — That’s like being opposed to calculators because math wasn’t designed to be digital.

    But I dig your purity of the game perspective. =)

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