The Detroit Lions had just executed an incredible game-winning drive topped with one of the most exciting plays of the game. Quarterback Jared Goff mounted a 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown to make it 20-19 Dallas Cowboys.
As he was all game, coach Dan Campbell opted to stay aggressive and go for the win. So with 27 seconds left, the Lions opted to go for two. Goff dropped back to pass and delivered the game-winning pass to left tackle Taylor Decker...
That’s a touchdown by Taylor Decker.— Jack Cavanagh (@javanagh87) December 31, 2023
Detroit vs Everybody pic.twitter.com/MW5yR8QRxD
... or so we thought.
A few seconds after the play was over, the officials threw a flag and declared the play an illegal touch by Decker. In essence, the officials believed Decker was not an eligible receiver on the play.
At first, the TV announcers said this was because Decker did not report as an eligible receiver to the officials. However, a replay clearly shows that Decker went directly to the officials before the play to declare as eligible.
so who didn’t report then? pic.twitter.com/5U1sB2kLXk— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) December 31, 2023
The announcers then said that Decker wouldn’t have been an eligible receiver anyway because there was a receiver on the line of scrimmage outside of him, making him ineligible. But it’s very clear upon replay that Josh Reynolds is off the line of scrimmage, too. He even motions to the sideline that he’s off:
Ultimately, the penalty stood, and the Lions opted to still go for the win. After an offsides penalty moved the ball back to the 2-yard line, Goff couldn’t connect with James Mitchell for the conversion and Dallas walked away with the 20-19 win.
This story is developing. We’ll add comments from Campbell and officiating after they come in.
UPDATE: Dan Campbell said the explanation he got from the officials was that Dan Skipper reported as eligible, not Decker. Both Lions players deny that.
Dan Skipper said he did not report as eligible to the officials on the 2pt play that got called back. Decker said he reported.— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) December 31, 2023
So what appears to have happened is the official mistook Decker reporting as eligible as Skipper reporting as eligible. As you can see from the replay above, both players were in the same general area.
UPDATE: Campbell went as far as saying that he told the officials about the play BEFORE THE GAME.
“I explained everything pre-game to a tee,” Campbell said. “I did that.”
UPDATE: Here is the official pool report from the officials, simply saying that they believed Skipper reported as eligible: