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The Detroit Lions were gifted 2 extra seconds on game-winning drive vs. Washington

It’s not often you see such a blatant mistake in the Lions’ favor.

Washington Football Team v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It’s been quite some time since we’ve been able to point to an officiating error that worked in the Detroit Lions’ favor. Just a few weeks ago, a mistake from officials in Atlanta cost the Lions three yards on their final drive of the game. The Lions were able to overcome that officiating mistake and still win the game, but on Sunday, they were on the opposite side of a huge error from the refs, and it may have won them the game.

The Lions had 17 seconds left in a tie ballgame with the ball on their own 25-yard line and three timeouts. It’s a tough situation to be in, and Detroit would need every second just to get an opportunity to win. Thanks to the officials, the Lions actually had 19 seconds.

On the first play of the drive, Matthew Stafford connected with Quintez Cephus for a 10-yard gain. As the rookie receiver fought for yards, the clock appeared to run down to nine seconds on the television broadcast before the Lions called a timeout and stopped the clock.

The official announced the timeout and asked the clock operator to reset the game clock to 10 seconds before quickly correcting himself to say 12 seconds. But replay clearly shows the down judge blowing the whistle and raising his hand with 10 seconds remaining on the clock.

You could potentially make the argument that Cephus was down with 11 seconds, but the whistle isn’t blown until about 10 seconds, and then you have the Lions timeout after that. So, at least, the refs put an extra two seconds on the clock for the Lions.

The next play—which featured a roughing the passer penalty on Washington—drained six seconds off the clock, taking the official time down to six seconds (should be four seconds). That’s just barely enough time for the Lions to pick up 10 yards, get down and call a timeout to leave time on the clock for Matt Prater’s game-winning kick.

In reality, the Lions had three seconds left for the kick, so it’s possible these two extra seconds wouldn’t have mattered much. But things would’ve been a heck of a lot tighter.

Of course, if we’re talking about late-game mistakes from the refs, the Lions were also the victim of a horrible pass interference call that converted a fourth down for Washington on their game-tying drive.

Had that not been called, the Lions would’ve gotten the ball back and would have drained the rest of the clock for a win with less dramatics.

Still, it’s odd to see a pretty blatant officiating error work in the Lions’ favor for once.

You can watch the entire drive—including the odd clock operating—right here:

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