If you were watching the Lions/Cowboys Wildcard game on Sunday during the 4th quarter, you saw the flag get thrown after Dallas’ Anthony Hitchens interfered with a pass intended for Detroit’s Brandon Pettigrew. The flag was subsequently picked up with the call waived off and thus the controversy began.
It’s understandable that Lions’ fans would think that the missed call cost their team the game. Had the call been enforced it would have given the Lions a first down which might have given them the opportunity to score a touchdown and win the game. Even the head of NFL officiating Dean Blandino said there was defensive interference thus fueling the fire that the officials cost the Lions the game. But just because the Lions would have been given a first down does not necessarily mean that they would have been successful in scoring a touchdown.
We will never know if the Lions could’ve scored a touchdown had they gotten the first down. The Cowboys’ defense could have stepped up and held the Lions to a field goal or hold them to a failed fourth down. The missed call does take away some of the credibility of the Cowboys’ win because now they didn’t win because they were the better team. Now, to many it will look as if the Cowboys’ won because the officials missed a call and thus allowed the Cowboys to get away with a penalty.
But this missed call does not change the outcome of the game. The Cowboys still won the game and are still going on to play in Green Bay this weekend. All fans can hope after the missed call is that the NFL Officiating Department will change how they enforce calls. If they are going to confer about it as a group they should be able to get the call right, which in some cases may mean picking up the flag or enforcing the correct call. It is true that the league has had a few too many of these cases this season and this recent case in the post season might force a change over the off season.
The fact still remains that the officials did not have a large hand in the Lions losing the game. The officials were not the ones committing so many penalties in the fourth quarter that gave the Cowboys the yards needed to make it down the field. Yes, their missed call hurt the Lions but that was only one call throughout the whole game. The Cowboys might have just been the better team, but the officials don’t control the players abilities in the field.
Say what you want about the game that Jerry Jones had a hand in the missed call and the Cowboys had to cheat their way into the next round. The Cowboys are still the team headed into Green Bay next weekend while the Lions are headed off into their off season. The outcome of the game is not going to change.