Everyone with two eyes and a brain saw that Detroit Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew was interfered with by Dallas Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens while trying to make a catch on a crucial third-and-one play in the fourth quarter of yesterday's game.
Everyone, that is, aside from the officiating crew overseeing the game. After the play, Pete Morelli's band of stripes made the controversial decision to pick up a flag after having already thrown and called a penalty on Hitchens for pass interference. The move has since been widely derided, earning scorn from fans and pundits across the country, including former NFL referee Jim Daopoulos.
Daopoulos, who now serves as a rules analyst for ESPN's Monday Night Football team, appeared on SportsCenter today to criticize the decision made by Morelli and his crew.
"It was a pass interference," said Daopoulus. "The defender was not playing the ball and interfered with Pettigrew's ability to make the catch."
He also added that Dez Bryant should've been penalized for running onto the field without a helmet to argue the call.
"I can tell you, honestly, that bothered me more than the pick up of the flag," he said. "Dez coming out onto the field without his helmet on, and arguing in the face of the official is an automatic penalty. It should've been called. Unbelievable to me that they didn't call it, very frustrating to me that it wasn't called. I can't imagine an explanation. There is no explanation for that."
To close, Daopoulus blasted the game officials, saying, "Y'know, the game could've got a little bit too exciting for them, could've got too big for them. Maybe they weren't prepared to work this big of a ball game."
However, he has since clarified the intention of his remarks.
I need to clarify my ESPN interview. I'm not questioning the officials qualifications. (1 of 2)— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) January 5, 2015
Big games can be intimidating & as an official you never want to be the one to make a game changing call.— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) January 5, 2015
The NFL has yet to release a statement on the decision.
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