After the Dallas Cowboys opened the door late in the fourth quarter on Saturday night with questionable offensive play calling followed by bad defensive strategy, the Detroit Lions busted through it to drive the field 75 yards in 1:18 for a touchdown to make the score 20-19.
In Dan Campbell fashion, the Lions went for two and the win. A pass from Jared Goff to left tackle Taylor Decker, however apropos since Decker is the longest-tenured Lion after the division-clinching win last week, seemed to complete Detroit's rally for a huge road win.
But there was a flag, and it was ruled that Decker had not reported as eligible. So it was a flag for illegal touching. Meanwhile, Dan Skipper entered the game as an extra offensive lineman and it was ruled he reported as eligible.
The video seems to clearly show otherwise. Decker (No. 68) is clearly in front of referee Brad Allen as Skipper (No. 70) runs in late (by design, surely).
And Goff was captured by ESPN cameras sending Decker to report. Goff confirmed that's what he did in his postgame interview.
In the postgame locker room Skipper also said he never reported as eligible on the play, as the above clip makes clear he couldn't have as Allen moves away. And Decker said he did.
There's a case that Decker has responsibility to make sure he clearly reports as eligible and the referee acknowledges it. But what more could he have done there? Allen botched it, in a case of mistaken identity that could have easily been avoided if Allen just takes time to make sure its right. But some other clips seem to show he acknowledged Decker.
Lions fans are going to naturally go with all the "we got screwed, again... and like always" and "home cooking for the Cowboys, again" narratives/conspiracies about the officiating. The call on the decisive two-point play was unequivocally bad. And made worse by Allen's double-down in the pool report.
But it should not mean the performance by the Lions' offense over much of the game should be overlooked, right to the final two-point pass where Goff misfired toward No. 2 tight end James Mitchell.
Awful overturn of game-winning two-point play makes it too easy to overlook Detroit Lions' offensive performance vs. Cowboys
Between going 2-for-2 to start their opening drive on Saturday night and one they converted on their last drive, the Lions went 1-for-10 on third downs.
Goff threw for 271 yards. But 63 came on a nice deep ball to Jameson Williams, with another 75 yards on the final drive when Dallas decided to play soft coverage and line Micah Parsons up across from right tackle Penei Sewell for some reason. He had a 67.2 passer rating and two interceptions in the game, but if you offer those facts the Goff defenders might come after you.
The Lions' defense played great all night, outside of having no answer for CeeDee Lamb
(13 catches for 227 yards). Yes, 92 of those yards came on a broken play touchdown after Derrick Barnes just needed to wrap up Dak Prescott for a safety, but Lamb still had his way a lot. Dallas had one other touchdown all game.
For those who want to push the "home cooking for the Cowboys" angle, the Lions had six penalties while the Cowboys had five, with one yard difference in penalty yardage.
The spotlight is on one of those penalties against the Lions, because it came in a huge spot and was a horribly botched call by literally the worst referee in the NFL this season. But what is also true is the Lions did not perform nearly well enough offensively to win for much of Saturday night's game. If they had, the game surely would not have come down to an inexplicable mistake by a bad official.