Detroit Lions draw ‘batted ball’ referee Tony Corrente for return trip to Seattle

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions will play a regular season game in Seattle this Sunday for the first time since officials missed a batted ball penalty in a 2015 loss to the Seahawks — and with the same referee officiating the game.

Tony Corrente has been assigned to Sunday’s Lions-Seahawks game.

Corrente refereed the Lions’ 13-10 loss to the Seahawks in 2015, when Calvin Johnson had a ball punched out of his hands while on the verge of scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 1:45 to play.

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Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright batted the loose ball out of the back of the end zone, in front of back judge Greg Wilson.

Officials ruled Johnson fumbled at the 1-yard line, and awarded Seattle the ball on a touchback. The league later admitted an illegal batting penalty should have been called on the play, which would have given the Lions possession inside the 1.

“You can’t bat the ball in any direction in the end zone, either end zone,” then-NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino said at the time. “K.J. Wright batted the football. That is a foul for an illegal bat. The back judge was on the play. In his judgment he didn’t feel it was an overt act, so he didn’t throw the flag. In looking at the replays, it did look like a bat so the enforcement would be, basically we’d go back to the spot of the fumble and Detroit would keep the football.”

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Corrente was not a central figure in the call. He was positioned behind the line of scrimmage, not near the goal line on the play. And Wilson now works on referee Clay Martin’s crew.

Corrente has officiated five Lions game since 2015, including Detroit’s 44-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this season.

The Lions are 0-2 against the Seahawks since the battled ball play, losing a playoff game in Seattle, 26-6, in January of 2017, and losing at Ford in 2018, 28-14.

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

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