The Dallas Cowboys' victory against the Detroit Lions yesterday did not come without its share of controversy, as a questionable decision to reverse a crucial pass interference call on Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens stirred a whirlwind of criticism for head referee Pete Morelli and his fellow game officials.
In the wake of the gaffe, Dean Blandino, the NFL's VP of officiating, appeared on Mike Florio's PFT Live podcast, as well as the NFL's Around the NFL, to speak about the incident today.
While discussing the game and, more specifically, the call, Blandino agreed that the officials shouldn't have decided to pick up the flag. "I'd prefer that they kept it down, having the flag down," he said. "But like I said it's a tight judgment call that could have went either way." If anything, according to Blandino, Hitchens should've been tagged with defensive holding.
Blandino also touched on the possibility of Dez Bryant receiving a flag for rushing onto the field without a helmet to argue the initial pass interference call. Blandino said that Bryant's reaction is “not an automatic penalty." However, he did note that he "certainly would have supported a call for unsportsmanlike conduct.”
There's no question that the entire play gave the officials a tough decision to make, particularly at that point in the game, when so much was on the line. However, as even Blandino admits, the call to reverse the initial decision wasn't an ideal one for the referees to make. And while it wasn't a game-clinching one for either side, it was, at the very least, game-changing.
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