Following a 20-19 loss against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell was understandably fuming mad about a situation at the end of game that has likely cost his team a shot at the no. 1 seed in the NFC playoff brackett.
The Lions are already NFC North champions. They won't be lower than the third seed in the playoffs this season. But a win against Dallas on the road in Week 17? Well, that kind of win could set you up to host every playoff game en route to a possible Super Bowl appearance. Unfortunately, we've had way too many discussions already this season about officiating in the NFL, and we need to have yet another one.
The Lions drew up an exceptionally executed two-point conversion play in which Dan Skipper came in as an extra offensive lineman on the end of the right side of the formation. Skipper walked over near the official but didn't say anything to make the Cowboys' defense think he was the eligible lineman, when in reality, it was Taylor Decker who reported eligible and caught the go-ahead pass.
Unfortunately, the officiating crew didn't see it the same way.
According to them, it was Skipper, not Decker, who reported eligible. At this point, that's an allegation that Lions head coach Dan Campbell denies, and it's a specific situation he says he cleared with the officiating crew before the game even began.
ESPN showed footage of Taylor Decker, Jared Goff, and Dan Skipper all approaching the official, and all of them were adamant during and after the game that it was Decker who reported eligible, not Skipper.
The Detroit Lions are now 11-5 on the season. That's certainly nothing to scoff at, but they feel like they should be getting on a plane back to Detroit with a record of 12-4 and, at least momentarily, a hold on the top seed in the NFC. Instead, they are looking at the strong likelihood of being the 2nd seed in the NFC at best.
Again, that's nothing to scoff at. And you could also make the argument that the Lions, who actually got three shots at that two-point conversion play, could have played that end-of-game situation differently. Maybe after getting called for a penalty on the first attempt, they should have just kicked the extra point and gone to overtime.
Maybe instead of going for it two more times, they should have played it "safe". That's just not who Dan Campbell is. And he rightfully has confidence in his offense. They're one of the best units in the NFL. The unfortunate variable at the end of this particular game was officiating, which the Lions needed to come through for them in a huge situation.
They did not.
And this is not the first time this particular officiating crew has come under fire. Although this one had playoff implications, hopefully nothing like this happens when the stakes are even higher in a couple of weeks.