Lions Coach Reveals Major Admission About Officiating Blunder

Dan Campbell, Lions
NFL Analysis Network

The Detroit Lions looked as if they had pulled off a major upset victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17. Late in the game, Jared Goff led the team down the field for a potential game-tying touchdown. But, instead of kicking the extra point, head coach Dan Campbell opted to go for two and the win.

It looked to have worked as the Lions executed a trick play to perfection. Starting left tackle Taylor Decker lined up at tight end, flipping positions with backup tackle Dan Skipper who usually patrols that spot in their jumbo set.

Decker caught the pass for what looked to be a successful two-point conversion play. What unfolded after was yet another gaffe by the referee crew, which has become an all too often occurrence in the NFL this season.

NFL News & Rumors: Dan Campbell, Brad Allen, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions Updates

The Lions were called for illegal touching, as it was announced Decker didn’t report as eligible. Multiple angles caught on video show that to not be the case, as Decker, right tackle Penei Sewell and Skipper all went toward referee Brad Allen. Allen announced only Skipper as eligible, which isn’t what the Lions wanted, and they were flagged for a penalty instead.

Incensed on the sideline, Campbell decided not to kick the extra point, sticking with his decision to go for two. It was unsuccessful this time as the Lions had victory snatched from them by what seemed to be another error by the crew of officials.

The Lions’ attempt to confuse and fool the Cowboys had been too successful, as Allen came away confused from their tactic as well. Campbell admitted as much during a press conference, as he reluctantly detailed what went into the decision.

“It’s about eligibility,” Campbell told reporters. “That’s what it’s about. And it has nothing to do with the ref. The ref knows. He knows. Because 68 reported. It’s for the defense, so that they see three different people. And you’re just hoping they happen to not hear that it’s 70 [who isn’t eligible]. That’s all.”

NFL News & Rumors: Dan Campbell, Brad Allen, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions Updates

The Lions’ head coach Dan Campbell also revealed that he communicated to the referees what the team would be attempting to do before the game. He wanted to make sure they were aware of the ruse Detroit was going to try to pull off so that it would go smoothly on the field.

I had it on a piece of paper,” Campbell said of the pregame meeting, which (as PFT reported) Allen did not personally attend. “Our play. What our players have. All I can do is talk through it. That’s all I can do.”

Ultimately, that did not happen. The Lions were too good at being sneaky, in the end, costing themselves the game. While some fault could be placed on the team for the communication error, video evidence sure makes it look like they did everything correctly to execute the play in the manner they were hoping and Allen made a mistake.

Mistakes happen all the time in the NFL, as no one is perfect. But, when a mistake is made in those circumstances, with the game on the line and being decided, it is magnified. The Lions should have won their 12th game of the season and been in a position to earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Instead, they are 11-5, tied with the Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles and could be the No. 3 seed instead.

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