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Breaking down the call: Did the Detroit Lions get hosed on a defensive holding call?

Did the Lions get screwed again or was it the right call?

Detroit Lions v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In true Detroit Lions fashion, the team worked their way back from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit, and for a moment, it looked like Matthew Stafford and company had added another historic comeback to the franchise’s history.

Down just three points with over two minutes left, the San Francisco 49ers faced a third-and-2. Instead of running the ball, Kyle Shanahan dialed up a risky pass, and Lions rookie Tracy Walker made them pay, stepping in front of the pass intended for 49ers running back Matt Breida.

The play set the Lions up for first-and-goal at the Niners’ 6-yard line.

But the Lions never ended up getting the ball. There was a flag on the play. Lions cornerback Quandre Diggs was called for defensive holding, not only negating the play, but giving the 49ers a fresh set of downs to run another minute off the clock.

Was the call right?

Let’s break it down.

Here’s another look at the play. Diggs is lined up in the slot over San Francisco tight end George Kittle:

There is clearly some contact there, but it’s hard to see if there’s an actual hold happening there. Either way, it doesn’t seem like the foul is particularly egregious. I know time and situation doesn’t come into play when officiating a game, but we’re talking about the most pivotal play in the game here, and a receiver that wasn’t even looked at for the play. To make such a critical call in the game, you’d hope the foul was a little more blatant than that.

Here are Diggs’ thoughts on the call:

Regardless of the controversial call, the Lions still had an opportunity to win the game late. Despite the fresh set of downs for San Francisco, the Lions defense forced a punt, giving Detroit’s offense the ball back with 53 seconds left. They worked the ball to midfield before turning over the ball on downs.

The Lions are ultimately to blame for the loss, but it sure doesn’t seem like the refs gave them any favors.


Did the refs get the call right?

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