4 critical officiating calls made for a wild final 80 seconds in Detroit Lions’ win vs. Washington

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

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Desmond Trufant threw his hands up in exasperation.

Trufant had just made what appeared to be the game-clinching pass breakup on fourth-and-5 with 1:19 to play in the Detroit Lions’ game Sunday against Washington when a flag flew in from behind him.

Pass interference. First down, Washington.

“I just went to go play the ball, got a good jam and went to go play the ball,” Trufant said. “But it is what it is. I can’t take it back now, so I’m just glad we won so I ain’t too sick about it.”

Trufant’s disputed penalty was one of four prominent officiating decisions — two that favored each team — that made for a wild final 80 seconds in the Lions’ 30-27 victory.

Three plays after that drive-extending penalty, Trufant drew another flag, for defensive holding, thatgave Washington a first down and helped put it in position to kick the game-tying field goal with 16 seconds to play.

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The Lions started the ensuing possession at their own 25-yard line after a touchback, completed a short pass on first down, then took a timeout with 9 seconds on the game clock.

Officials put 3 seconds back on the clock — replays showed Quintez Cephus was whistled down with about 10 seconds to play — and Chase Young drew a roughing the passer penalty on the next play.

Young’s penalty gave the Lions the ball at the 50-yard line with 6 seconds left, enough time for a quick pass to Marvin Jones and, after a timeout with only 3 seconds left to play, Matt Prater’s game-winning 59-yard field goal.

Had officials not added 3 seconds to clock after the Lions’ first timeout, the Lions likely would not have been able to play for a field goal and would have had to try a Hail Mary instead.

Washington coach Ron Rivera did not address the timing decision after the game, but was critical of the penalty flag on Young, for shoving Stafford in the back.

“Hit him too hard, I guess,” Rivera said. “They hit our guy and knocked him to the ground. We didn’t get a penalty. So, you know, just a little inconsistent.”

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Asked if he thought he deserved a flag, Young said, “I think it was a close call.”

“Was going hard,” he said. “It was a split decision whether to go or stop and I just went. Rookie mistake. It happens.”

Trufant took a similar tone with his penalties, though Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said Trufant made “a great play’ on the pass he was flagged for interference.

“It’s just the life of a corner,” Trufant said. “You just got to move to the next play cause as you seen, we still had the opportunity to win the game. So we just had to, regardless of what the situation was, we just kept pushing.”

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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