The Detroit Lions felt they were slighted by the referees in their NFC Wild Card Game loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, and they (sort of) received an explanation.
Midway through the fourth quarter with the Lions leading 20-17, referee Pete Morelli announced a defensive pass interference call on the Cowboys, only to immediately reverse it. The non-call forced Detroit to punt, and Dallas scored on the ensuing drive.
Morelli explained why the penalty was called back after the game.
Pool report with quotes from referee Pete Morelli: http://t.co/muPExEU3MH—
Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) January 05, 2015
“The back judge flew his flag for pass interference,” Morelli said. “We got other information from another official from a different angle that thought the contact was minimal and didn’t warrant pass interference. He thought it was face-guarding.”
Morelli essentially handed the blame to head linesman Jerry Bergman, who believed it was a face-guarding call, which doesn’t carry a penalty in the NFL.
And while it certainly did look like defensive pass interference, it’s interesting to note that many people have picked up on another call that could have been made against Detroit on the play.
Rewatched the non PI from DETvsDAL. One angle shows Pettigrew pushing off Hitchens facemask bef contact. Actually OPI http://t.co/oiCN3CTq1W—
Elliot Harrison (@HarrisonNFL) January 05, 2015
Of course, had both penalties been called, they would have offset and the Lions would have been able to replay third down.
Regardless of what should or should not have been called, though — former referee Mike Pereira believed there was defensive holding, also — this situation certainly makes a strong case for the NFL to make penalty calls reviewable.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images