Essentially, the NFL admits it made a “whoopsie.”
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens should have been penalized on an incomplete pass to Detroit Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew, NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino told “PFT Live” on Monday. The controversial play, which turned a first down into a fourth down for Detroit, was widely seen as the turning point in Dallas’ 24-20 win in Sunday’s NFC Wild Card Game.
Hitchens had been flagged for pass interference, and the penalty was announced, before referee Pete Morelli abruptly reversed the call without explanation.
Acknowledging that the play was a “close call that could have gone either way,” Blandino told PFT’s Mike Florio that Hitchens should have been penalized for defensive holding — which would have brought an automatic first down for the Lions — rather than the interference penalty that was called off.
Either way, Blandino’s admission doesn’t do the Lions any good now. Other things that didn’t help Detroit’s cause: Sam Martin’s ensuing 10-yard punt; the Cowboys’ 11-play, 59-yard, 5-minute, 38-second touchdown drive to take the lead, or the Lions’ unsuccessful attempt at a game-winning drive after resuming possession with 2:32 left in the game.
But, hey, let’s keep crying about the one flag that was picked up, because that’s so much easier.
Thumbnail photo via Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports Images