| Detroit Free Press
The unnecessary roughness penalty called on Detroit Lions defensive tackle Danny Shelton midway through the second quarter was by no means the only reason the Lions lost to the Indianapolis Colts, 41-21, on Sunday at Ford Field.
But the questionable call, on a late flag, continued a scoring drive for the Colts that provided them with early momentum.
With the score tied at 7 and 7:04 left in the second quarter, the Colts faced third-and-4 from the Lions’ 34-yard line. Shelton, Romeo Okwara and Da’Shawn Hand engulfed Colts quarterback Philip Rivers and two offensive linemen. They were in the process of sacking Rivers when referee Clay Martin blew the whistle.
All the players continued to jostle each other. Shelton, falling backwards, pulled Rivers down with him, about 3 seconds after the whistle was first blown.
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Shelton got up, walked away and celebrated. Hand fell forward over Rivers, who was upset and went after Hand. Tempers flared as several players, including Rivers and Lions linebacker Reggie Ragland, began shoving each other in a scrum. That’s when Martin threw his flag — about 13 seconds after Rivers had been taken to the ground.
A 15-yard penalty was assessed and the Colts got an automatic first down at the 26. They scored three plays later and took a 14-7 lead with 5:32 left in the half.
After the game, a pool reporter asked Martin why he had called the penalty on Shelton.
“I had blown the play dead for forward progress where I thought the quarterback was stopped,” Martin said. “And then I felt that No. 71 (Shelton) unnecessarily continued on with him. And at about the time I’m processing that, the scrum starts. So my attention went immediately to breaking up the chaos, if you will, and I threw my flag late. But the flag was for No. 71, unnecessary roughness, after my whistle for forward progress.”
Question: “So, Shelton just continued with the play when he should have stopped?”
Martin: “That was my ruling, yes.”
Lions coach Matt Patricia received a lengthy explanation on the sideline from line judge Frank LeBlanc.
“We obviously can’t get a penalty in that situation,” Patricia said. “Really, I think it was more of the act during the play I think, it just, I don’t know, they threw it later, that’s what it looked like.
“We can’t have those situations. Those are — certainly not in that situation where it’s critical to get them stopped. Obviously, we gave them a second chance, we gave Philip Rivers a second chance and they got points out of it. We have to play better, we have to play smarter in those situations.”
Ragland echoed some of his coaches’ statements, but he was decidedly less politic about the penalty.
“We can’t have penalties, simple as that,” he said. “But some of this stuff getting ticky-tacky out here, man. It’s going to be pushing and shoving, man. But you don’t have to throw a flag all the time.
“If you watching, man, I’m over here trying to get everybody right, but then (expletive), Philip, come grab me like he crazy. But if I would’ve grabbed him it would have been a penalty. So just because he’s a quarterback don’t mean nothing. Come on, now. But it is what it is. It’s an offensive league.”
Contact Carlos Monarrez at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.