Lions Players Are Furious At The Disappearing Penalty Flag, Think Ref Changed The Call After Watching The Jumbotron

Detroit Lions players are “baffled” that a key pass interference penalty on the Cowboys was overturned late in Dallas’ 24-20 playoff win on Sunday.

On 3rd and 1 with 8:25 left in the fourth quarter, defensive pass interference was called on Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens. Referee Pete Morelli announced the penalty to the crowd, giving Detroit a 1st down, only to reverse the call moments later without an explanation.

According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, Detroit players think a replay that aired on the jumbotron had a hand in the reversal. From Breer:

Several Lions players expressed the belief that the officials used the hanging video board to conduct an independent review, but Morelli said in a pool report that it was simply a second set of eyes that led to the initial call being overturned.

Lions wide receiver Golden Tate told Breer, “I was unaware you could have a unofficial review by looking at the jumbotron a few times, and then go back, take the ball all the way back and make it fourth-and-1.”

Another player sent a text message to Breer that said, “Doesn’t this seem shady to you?”

After the game Morelli explained what happened. He said that an official with a better view of the play determined that there wasn’t enough contact for pass interference and overruled the official who originally made the call.

The play:

What’s unusual about this is that Morelli didn’t change the call until after he officially announced it. No one in the NFL world — from Mike Pereira to Peter King — can remember a flag getting picked up without explanation after the penalty was already declared.

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