In the immediate aftermath of the botched pass interference non-call that went against the Lions in Dallas on Sunday, Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford demanded an explanation. The explanation he got was factually inaccurate.
Stafford, who was wearing an NFL Films microphone during the game, went to two different officials to ask why there was no pass interference penalty. One official told him, “You have no contact before the ball arrived,” and the other told him, “There was no contact.”
But that simply isn’t true: A look at a still image shows that Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens made contact well before the ball got to Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew. Hitchens also made contact with Pettigrew earlier in the play, grabbing his jersey in what the NFL has admitted should have been a penalty for defensive holding.
For two different officials to call that “no contact” is a rather shocking admission that the officials didn’t have a clue what happened on the play. Of course, with 22 players on the field being observed by seven officials, stuff is always going to get missed. What’s particularly aggravating from Stafford’s perspective, however, is that the pass interference by Hitchens wasn’t missed: One official saw it, threw the flag and told the head referee, who announced the penalty.
It’s still a mystery why, after that, an official who didn’t see the penalty was permitted to overrule the official who did see the penalty. No matter how much Stafford or anyone else on the Lions demands an explanation to that, no explanation will be satisfactory.