Late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game, the Lions had the lead and the ball and called a third down swing pass that appeared to seal the win: It picked up the first down, the Cardinals were out of timeouts, and it seemed for a moment that Detroit would just run out the clock and head home victorious.
Instead, the play was waved off because the officials ruled that the Lions called timeout an instant before the ball was snapped. It was Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell who signaled for the timeout, but head coach Matt Patricia took responsibility for it afterward, saying it was his call.
“I’m calling the timeouts,” Patricia said, via the Detroit Free Press.
Patricia said he didn’t realize Matthew Stafford was going to be able to get the center to snap the ball before the play clock expired, and he feared a delay of game penalty.
“We’re looking at the play clock trying to get that stuff down and get it figured out at that point. Stafford did a great job of getting it off, but really again, whether it was at 0 [seconds on the play clock] or 1, either way, the mechanics, the way that works with the officials, the guy back there, he’s staring at the play clock and he sees it. So again, we’d rather be in third-and-5 than [take a penalty and be in] third-and-10 in that got-to-have-it situation. We’ve just got to go out and execute the next play,” Patricia said.
As it turned out, after the timeout, the Lions threw an incomplete pass on third down, giving the Cardinals plenty of time to march down the field and score, sending the game into overtime. The Lions ended up with a tie, in a game they thought they had won.