Even with a historically bad defense, the Detroit Lions still can’t catch a break.
With the Minnesota Vikings on fourth down deep in Lions territory, Tracy Walker managed to sack Kirk Cousins in a game-changing play.
It turns out that the game-changing aspect of that play came from the refs:
This was flagged for roughing the passer. Horrendous. pic.twitter.com/c1tA7j89Ao— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) January 3, 2021
Walker was called for roughing the passer for the mere act of tackling Cousins. It wasn’t a high hit, it wasn’t a vicious hit. It was a football play you see nearly every week. With the first down secured by penalty, Minnesota was able to score a touchdown to extend their lead over the Lions.
The Lions Twitter account doesn’t seem too pleased with the call either, and Dean Blandino can’t offer a reasonable explanation for the horrendous call:
It is easy to dismiss this screw-up, given that neither team is competing for the playoffs. However, these kind of calls are awful for the image of the NFL. How can defenders play defense if they can’t tackle a quarterback? There needs to be consistency from the officiating. Imagine if this call was made with the playoffs on the line, or a trip to the Super Bowl. Nobody wants this kind of controversy. Fix your officiating.
Have you seen a worse call before?
Oh, you thought the refs would stop at ONE bad call? After review, this Marvin Jones catch—initially called a touchdown on the field—was changed to incomplete.
A 3-TD game for Marvin Jones, great showing for the pending free-agent.pic.twitter.com/qir2uvW2dq— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 3, 2021
Huh? How is that conclusive enough to overturn? A certain GM candidate isn’t happy with it either:
How is that not a TD? How is that reversed ?— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) January 3, 2021
Nor are players, former and current:
Today has been an awful showcase of officiating.
UPDATE: Here’s referee Adrian Hill explaining the roughing the passer call after the game to the official pool reporter:
Question: On the roughing the passer penalty called on Detroit’s Tracy Walker early in the fourth quarter, what made that a roughing the passer penalty?
Hill: “By rule, one of the categories for roughing the passer is full body weight, where the tackler lands with his full body weight on the quarterback. That’s the category this play fell into.”
Question: It kind of looked like the defender grabbed the quarterback and his momentum rolled him off, but is that not what you saw?
Hill: “The momentum doesn’t play a role and the rolling off afterwards does not play a role. It’s that initial contact to the ground. If you roll off afterwards, that doesn’t eliminate the foul.”
Question: What could the defender have done differently?
Hill: “A lot of the techniques that defensive coaches are teaching include kind of a barrel roll, where you grab the player to the side and you take him down to your side and roll, rather than coming down with your full body weight.”
Question: So, it was a clear-cut penalty to you?
Hill: “Yes, it was. The initial force was full body weight.”