'Detroit vs. Everyone' Comes to Fruition

    icon Jan 02, 2024
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by Jack B. Tany


You’ve probably seen the tee-shirts or placards that read “Detroit vs. Everyone.”


Well, that slogan was reinforced Saturday evening on Dec. 30th at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium when the Detroit Lions went up against the Dallas Cowboys – and Brad Allen - and suffered a 20-19 loss in a regular season contest that had the atmosphere of a playoff game. Allen, the head referee, played an integral part in the game by making a questionable call on the Lions’ two-point conversation at the end of the game.

Trailing 20-13 with 1:41 to go and without a timeout, the Lions offense marched 75 yards in nine plays across 1 minute and 18 seconds, as quarterback Jared Goff hit wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown for an 11-yard touchdown pass.

That brought the Lions within a single digit, 20-19. Detroit head coach Dan Campbell had already told the entire offense that they weren’t going to settle for a tie; opting to go for a two-point conversion and the win. Yes, Detroit could have simply kicked the extra point and headed to overtime. But Detroit wasn’t catching any breaks or getting any of the calls during the game and had absolutely no answer on how to stop Dallas’s outstanding receiver CeeDee Lamb.

In a pre-designed play, Campbell called for a tackle-eligible throw to veteran left tackle Taylor Decker. Because the offensive formation left Decker as an eligible receiver, he needed to “report” to the referee (Allen). And Decker did just that. He ran over to the right hash where Allen was standing and yelled “report.” Joining him was fellow tackle Penei Sewell and reserve lineman Dan Skipper, who was brought in to beef up the line. Sewell and Skipper were simply serving as decoys and said nothing to Allen because they didn’t need to. On the two-point conversion pass Goff hit Decker in the corner of the end zone and it looked as if Detroit was going to escape with a 21-20 victory.

Not so fast, said Allen.

After the play ended Allen tossed a delayed penalty flag. After briefly huddling with his fellow officials, Allen announced that Detroit reported No. 70 (Skipper) as eligible prior to the play. Therefore, the Lions were called for an illegal touching penalty. Replays showed Decker trotting over to Allen prior to the play and Allen looking directly at him.

If fact, during pre-game warm ups, Campbell alerted the officials that the Lions would be running that particular extra point conversion play if they were in a position to win the game.

Campbell actually shared the play with the officials before the game, a common practice with trick plays, especially ones involving peculiar formations. According to the NFL Network, he also took the extra step of speaking one-on-one with Allen to avoid potential confusion.

It’s an archaic rule that I have never really understood. Why should you give the defense an advantage by alerting them that a possible trick play may be used? You’ve got defensive coordinators making a ton of money dissecting offensives and you’re actually assisting them.

There was an offsides penalty by Dallas on the next attempt, setting up yet a third opportunity for the Lions. Campbell stuck to his guns and again went for two. But Goff’s rushed pass to back-up tight end James Mitchell fell short of its target.

After the game Allen held his ground and erroneously said that Skipper reported, not DeckerDecker vowed that he reported, saying he did everything that his coach told him to do. Campbell, still confused over the penalty, stated that Decker reported. And Goff, the Lions’ field general, said he instructed Decker to report.


It basically comes down to a colossal miscommunication by Allen.

FOX rules analyst and former NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino offered an interesting explanation for the controversial “ineligible man” penalty. Blandino explained that responsibility falls on Decker for failing to report. Blandino accused Detroit of trying “to disguise” who was eligible when Decker, Sewell and Skipper all went to the officials before the play.


Sewell and Skipper don’t have to report, Decker does,” he said. “All three went to the Referee in what felt like an attempt to disguise who was really eligible. Ultimately the player has responsibility to report and the Referee has responsibility to announce it and alert the defense.”


"It's a two-point try for the game,” he continued. “There's no reason to rush. Slow it down, make sure who's eligible and who isn't."


That obviously did not happen. Allen erred and it cost Detroit a victory. As a result, Allen’s crew is going to be downgraded and will probably not be participating in the postseason. Which is too little, too late for the Lions and their faithful fans.


Armchair quarterbacks blamed Campbell for going for a touchdown on 4th down in the second quarter instead of booting a field goal. Hindsight is 20/20.


Campbell, who called a successful fake punt earlier in the game, has been aggressive all season long. The bottom line is that Detroit is going to the playoffs as a probable No. 2 or 3 seed.


Look for Brad Allen to be inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor.



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