Detroit Lions not happy with pass interference reversal call

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Jim Caldwell is not one to say much about officiating. He rarely has piped up this season about any calls that were made.

Yet on Sunday afternoon, after the Detroit Lions lost to the Dallas Cowboys, 24-20, he got about as controversial as he ever is going to get about a referee’s call.

Caldwell was asked about the explanation referee Pete Morelli gave him for picking up a flag on a third down pass interference call in the fourth quarter and he clearly was unsatisfied with Morelli’s response.

"Not good enough," Caldwell said. "Not a good enough one. I’m going to leave it at that. Not good enough."

It was a sentiment echoed by many of the Detroit Lions in the locker room Sunday, with reaction ranging from frustration to confusion and trying to understand exactly what happened and why Morelli picked up the flag.

"That was trash," defensive end Darryl Tapp said. "Not just with that particular call, but all calls. I feel like if there was a flag thrown, obviously he threw it for a reason. You don’t make mistakes throwing flags. That’s my whole thing.

"But it is what it is on that one."

The flag for pass interference on Anthony Hitchens against tight end Brandon Pettigrew was initially thrown on a third-and-1 from the Dallas 46-yard line, and was even announced by Morelli to the crowd at AT&T Stadium.

Then the officials conferred and changed the call, saying there was no penalty on the play.

"I still haven’t [gotten an explanation]," center Dominic Raiola said. "I don’t know. I’ve never seen it ever. You can ask anybody around here, I don’t think they’ve seen it, either."

So what was the team’s reaction in the aftermath?

"Like what the [expletive] just happened," Raiola said. "But you got to make a decision quick, right."

Caldwell said the call didn’t cost the Lions the game -- and he’s right, although it certainly appeared to start a downward spiral of events for Detroit.

The overturned call started a rough sequence of events for the Lions in the fourth quarter. On the next play, punter Sam Martin shanked his punt 10 yards to give the Cowboys decent field position trailing 20-17 with 8:10 left.

That Dallas drive -- the game-winning drive -- featured anomalies from the Lions' defense this season. They gave up a 21-yard pass reception from Tony Romo to Jason Witten on a fourth-and-6. They had two defensive holding calls -- one on a second down and one on a third-and-7 -- that extended the Dallas drive.

And in a season in which they consistently had come from behind late, the Lions instead were the victim this time.

"I think that was huge," linebacker DeAndre Levy said. "But I’m never the one that’s going to look at refs. They are part of the game. You get some good calls. You get some bad calls.

"It’s our job to play ball."