NFL head of officiating: Cowboys got away with one
Dean Blandino says there should’ve been a holding penalty, better communication on officials’ part Sunday
Dean Blandino admitted to “Pro Football Talk Live” that Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens got away with a penalty on Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew in the fourth quarter, a critical no-call that derailed a possible Lions scoring drive.
However, Blandino said that penalty should’ve been defensive holding, not necessarily defensive pass interference, which was more debatable.
According to Blandino, the clear penalty Hitchens got away with was defensive holding: Hitchens grabbed Pettigrew’s jersey while Pettigrew was running his route, and Blandino said that should have been called. If it had been, it would have given the Lions an automatic first down.
Blandino said the pass interference penalty that one official flagged, only to get overruled by another official, was a “close call that could have went either way.” Blandino acknowledged that the officials should have done a better job of communicating, first among themselves so that they could get the call right, and then after referee Pete Morelli turned on his microphone to announce the penalty. Morelli first announced pass interference, then later announced that the pass interference penalty would not be enforced — but that second announcement was so hasty that the FOX broadcast missed it.
But what about Pettigrew grabbing Hitchens’ facemask on the same play? Blandino said: “I felt that was minimal contact,” saying there shouldn’t have been a flag for that.
(Either way, a facemask penalty with a holding or pass interference penalty would’ve resulted in a replay of third down for the Lions, not a loss of down that actually resulted.)
As for Dez Bryant, the Cowboys wide receiver who ran onto the field to complain about the pass interference flag before it was picked up, Blandino said Bryant could’ve been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct but, in the end, it’s “not an automatic penalty” and up to the officials’ discretion on how to handle it.
Though there were many plays in Sunday’s game that were critical to the result, that play drew all the national reaction that night and today. Most think the NFL needs to give the Lions a better explanation as to why the officials picked up the flag on that play in the fourth quarter.
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“The way I see it, I agree with all of the above , however lets keep the argument going. The amount of players on the field vs the amount of officials at any given moment. If I look close enough “on TV” I can see a clear-cut penalty on every play of a game and I am limited on my vision to what the network’s camera is showing on TV, So I am always see-ing a player get-away with something he shouldn’t be doing ! The NFL clips do show the officials making the correct call 99% of the time and I agree with that. What you won’t see any % of the time is a Punter kicking a football only 10 yards. And those Punters are paid at least 20x more than any official. Argument should be , Teams win games not the officials”