Partly thanks to NFL officials’ missteps in the Seattle Seahawks-Los Angeles Rams game, the Lions’ playoff hopes were dashed before last week’s Sunday Night Football game with the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that some in the NFL thought “The Lions should be outraged” about several pro-Seahawks calls in a game Seattle won in 19-16 overtime to keep Dan Campbell and Co. out of the playoffs.
“Multiple managers and coaches said the NFL needs to reassess how it selects and trains its authorized roster,” Schefter said late Friday. “…even the NFL’s competition committee are aware of what one source described to ESPN as the ‘worst official game of the year’.”
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The committee, made up of a group of league coaches and managers who review the rules and refereeing practices each off-season, was as frustrated with the Seattle-LA game as the Lions and Rams, Schefter reported.
“A source told ESPN this week that the NFL needs to do a better job of screening, recruiting and training its officials,” he said, adding that “the league can’t have games where teams’ seasons are at stake and where they’re questionable and effective.” Calls like the Rams-Seahawks Week 18 game.”
To sum it up, the Lions needed a defeat to the Seahawks on Sunday and a win over the Green Bay Packers to secure the seventh and final spot in the NFC playoffs. (The Packers could have clinched a spot with a win regardless of the Seahawks’ result.) While Seattle played Sunday afternoon, Detroit played nights, so the Lions knew the outcome when they stepped onto the pitch.
Despite being aware of the Seahawks’ win that eliminated the Lions, Campbell’s team sent the Packers onto the road and prevented their opponent from making the playoffs.
But how bad was the refereeing in Seattle? To be fair, Lions fans are used to complaining about referees – they did so during the Packers game when handling suspicious calls – so this is nothing new, right?
∙ With 8:47 left in the fourth quarter in LA, the batsman should not have been given a running penalty. The flagged player, the Rams, was pushed to Seahawks bookie Michael Dickson, which meant the flag had to be taken. The Seahawks were down three points at the time, and instead of punting the Rams from their own 21st, they got the ball and then drew at 16 with just over 2 minutes left.
∙ Later in the quarter, Rams cornerer Jalen Ramsey, who tied at 16, was called to Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith for an unnecessary breach of toughness that left Dick Lane trembling in disbelief. Not only did the authorities probably make a mistake in throwing the flag in the first place (Ramsey apparently was pushed out of bounds at the same time as Smith went out of bounds causing the two of them to collide), but the Seahawks were also widely seen sticking DK Metcalf’s finger. Inside Ramsey’s face mask after the game, this should have led to a penalty. “Unnecessary stiffness” pushed Seattle into the sideline touchdown zone with less than a minute to go, but shooter Jason Myers eventually missed a 46-yard shot attempt.
· In overtime, Smith probably should have been flagged for being deliberately punished. With 9:26, his pass under pressure was 10 yards behind the other Seahawks players.
The final blunder involved a former Lions draft pick: Seahawks defender Quandre Diggs taunted his opponent after picking Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield with about 8 and a half minutes left. Replays showed the Rams pointing out Bobby Wagner, a former teammate of Diggs in Seattle. Had it been ticked, Seattle’s drive would have started on its 21st instead of its 36th; This possession ended when Myers scored the 32-yard winning goal.
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Despite all that has been said, none of these calls led. directly to points; The Rams had more of a chance to stop the Seahawks after the first suspicious flag, but allowed their final fourth-quarter drive to stretch out for another five minutes of game time. Mayfield and the Rams also won only one title in the fourth quarter and overtime.
A source told Schefter that the league needed a way to “lighten” such errors in a critical game, but Friday’s story did not offer any solutions. The Lions – thanks in large part to the top 10 offense and young, improving defense – finished an astonishing season in NFC North, winning eight of their last 10 games, finishing 9-8 and 5-1.
But now Detroit fans are left with this quote as they watch this weekend’s playoff games, including the Seahawks at Saturday’s San Francisco 49ers game:
“The lions must be angry,” a source told ESPN. “It was a terrible way for them to end the season.”
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This article was originally published in the Detroit Free Press: Bad Rams-Seahawks calls helped keep Lions out of playoffs: ESPN