Colthorp: Lions got screwed (again), but they showed me something

Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) celebrates his touchdown catch with wide receiver Kalif Raymond during the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys won 20-19. (AP Photo/Sam Hodde) (Sam Hodde, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press All Rights Reserved)

A wise man once said, complaining about the refs is the lament of the loser.  While that is true, it can also be true to say if the officials would just stop hoodwinking the Detroit Lions, we’d stop whining about it.

For as long as I’ve watched football, the Lions as a team have gotten little respect, if any, even when they deserved some. I remember a Monday Night Football game in the mid-90s where Al Michaels incredulously pointed out to the audience that the Lions were actually winning against the 49ers—like he was seeing the Miracle on Ice all over again. Maybe all that disrespect was destined to trickle down to the officials. It’s hard to ignore all the egregious calls and non-calls over the years that have directly cost the Lions games and even playoff spots.

Recommended Videos

Off the top of my head, I can think of five instances:

  • Calvin Johnson’s TD taken away vs CHI because he didn’t “complete the process.”
  • The illegal batting of a ball out of the endzone vs SEA on a MNF game that wasn’t called because the officials didn’t know the rule.
  • The phantom facemask against GB that allowed Rodgers another play to complete a Hail Mary on a Thursday night game at Ford Field.
  • The non-call on the obvious delay of game on a 66-yard game-winning FG vs BAL.
  • Officials calling, announcing— and then waiving off the flag— on a pass interference call vs DAL in a playoff game. Would that have ever happened if the helmets were reversed?

I guarantee you I’ve forgotten some games and plays that once led my father-in-law to declare, “There are too many times this stuff has happened. I’m telling you— it’s a conspiracy against the damn Lions!”

Now add what happened last night in Dallas to the conspiracy theory.

If what the Lions say is true— that Taylor Decker reported for the 2-point conversion and Dan Skipper didn’t— then this up there with Referee Phil Luckett calling heads when Jerome Bettis called tails. All video and critical thinking points to the Lions doing everything right. Dan Campbell even went over the play with officials before the game— which all coaches do, so the officiating crew isn’t caught off guard by a trick play. Jared Goff even sent Decker over to Brad Allen to report. But Allen seemed fixated on Skipper and that’s who he announced to the defense as eligible.

Brad Allen’s crew has been criticized already this season for missing some game-changing penalties. So many of us are again left asking, when is the NFL going to make officiating a full-time job? That’s right. NFL officials are part time. For those who say mistakes are part of the game, wouldn’t those mistakes be more tolerable if you knew the ones making the calls were the best of the best? I mean, the NFL is a multi-billion dollar business. Who’s standing in the way of making the men and women who make these life-changing calls full-time employees? Yes, I say life-changing because these losses can lead to coaches getting fired, players getting cut, and teams and cities missing out on millions of dollars by hosting a playoff game.

---> Report: NFL to demote officiating crew that blew calls in Lions-Cowboys game

And that’s exactly what likely happened to the Lions.

The loss costs them the #2 seed and possibly the #1 seed, if SF loses to LA next week. That’s an extra home playoff game and an easier road to the Super Bowl.

Those are huge implications.

All of that said, I’m still very excited about this team which easily could’ve had a letdown game after capturing its first division in 30 years. But instead, they went to Dallas and pushed around the best home team in the league. I’m betting they’re more galvanized than ever and will carry that into the playoffs where blown calls and conspiracies will go the way of the Same Old Lions.

About the Author

Jason is Local 4’s utility infielder. In addition to anchoring the morning newscast, he often reports on a variety of stories from the tragic, like the shootings at Michigan State, to the off-beat, like great gas station food.

Recommended Videos