The play that proved decisive in the Vikings-Lions game started with an interception and ended with a possible fumble. Officials ruled that Lions cornerback Darius Slay was down by contact; the decision, which seemed to be sufficiently close to justify a replay review, wasn’t reviewed.
More specifically, it wasn’t subject to a full-blown replay review. Referee Carl Cheffers told a pool reporter after the 16-13 victory by the Lions that the replay official confirmed the ruling on the field, obviating the need for a full-blown replay review.
That’s fine, but here’s what that explanation means: The replay official determined that there was indisputable visual evidence that the call was correct. That’s a very high standard. Anything less than that requires the replay official to deter to the referee, who then will search for indisputable visual evidence that the ball was coming loose before Slay’s knee or leg hit the ground.
Because a full-blown replay review didn’t happen, the CBS broadcast operation didn’t have a chance to present and to search for the kind of multiple angles that eventually could provide a decisive view, one way or the other. The limited views presented before the next snap happened didn’t seem to be definitive. Absent a clear look that Slay was down before the ball was moving, Cheffers should have been the one to make the decision.