DETROIT -- Sean Payton was clearly upset by some of the officiating calls in the New Orleans Saints' 24-23 loss to the Detroit Lions. He was caught yelling toward referee Terry McAulay as time expired. Then he admitted as much in his postgame news conference.
“I thought the penalties ended up hurting us. I wasn’t happy with the way that game was officiated, I’m gonna leave it at that. And yet that wasn’t the reason in the end,” Payton said.
It’s unclear which calls drew Payton’s ire, though there were certainly some major calls in the game that could have been considered judgment calls.
The costliest was a defensive pass interference penalty against safety Rafael Bush that gave the Lions new life after a fourth-down incomplete pass with 2:17 remaining. Bush was flagged for making contact with the intended receiver, running back Reggie Bush.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, Saints quarterback Drew Brees appeared to be campaigning for a call when he threw the ball away into the turf and had to settle for a field goal. In the second quarter, Saints cornerback Brian Dixon was flagged for a 31-yard pass interference penalty that may have been considered incidental contact and led to a Lions field goal. And in the third, an offensive pass interference call against receiver Marques Colston nullified a big gain on third down.
The Saints finished with 12 accepted penalties for 134 yards, while the Lions had nine for 71 yards.