The Cowboys trailed by two touchdowns to start the game but were able to rally late. It sure didn't hurt that they had some critical calls go their way late in the game.
It all started with a third down play where it looked like a Cowboys defender committed pass interference. See below:
A flag was actually thrown on the play, and the call was announced to the stadium. But then it was picked up after Cowboys wide receiver, who had no business being on the field, came out and argued. The fact that Dez Bryant ran out on the field (without a helmet, too) should have been a penalty.
But don't just take my word for it. Here's what Former Vice President of Officiating Mike Pereira had to say:
I am out of here. Biggest call was the DPI pickup. It was DPI and it was defensive holding as well. Not good. Flying back to Sac tonight.— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) January 5, 2015
He expanded on his thoughts in video form. "All I know is the Cowboys caught a HUGE, huge break."
And here's what former NFL referee Jim Daopoulos had to say.
That's pass interference contact and not playing the ball. Good call— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) January 5, 2015
Wow why would they pick up that flag...it was pass interference!— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) January 5, 2015
Can't answer everyone but this was a foul and should not have been picked...I have no idea or reason for the flag pick up...puzzling!— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) January 5, 2015
And yes Dez Bryant Should have been penalized for being on the field without a helmet. Really confusing situation!— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) January 5, 2015
And even if it wasn't pass interference, this sure looks like defensive holding:
Even if no interference, Hitchens grabbed Pettigrew's jersey all the way. Should've been defensive holding. pic.twitter.com/AfkDgAGlgj— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) January 5, 2015
Now, bad calls certainly happen to every team. But the problem here for the Lions is that this wasn't the only bad non-flag late in the game.
When the Lions were up 20-17 late in the game and Dallas was outside of field goal range, the Cowboys had to go for it on fourth down with about six minutes remaining. Tony Romo completed a pass over the middle to a wide open Jason Witten who put a nice fake on Lions safety James Ihedigbo. The only problem was that Witten also had an unfair advantage. This false start went uncalled:
This is the Witten false start on 4th down. How often does this go uncalled? https://t.co/61UJAMU431— Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) January 5, 2015
Then Detroit got a stop on third down. But they were called for defensive holding. It was a fair penalty. What the referees missed entirely, however, was the fact there was also a hold on the Cowboys:
Those penalties should have offset to replay third down. Instead, the Cowboys scored a touchdown not too long after. Speaking of that touchdown, take a look at this:
Maybe the holds by Tyron Smith & Ronald Leary cancelled each other out on the GW touchdown? pic.twitter.com/XCry2SoYwy— Dave Dameshek (@Dameshek) January 5, 2015
The Lions got the ball back with a little time remaining and they needed a touchdown. Detroit failed to convert on fourth down and Dallas won the game. One last look at that fourth down play, for fun:
Here's the illegal contact on Calvin that FOX didn't replay. pic.twitter.com/zSQaNjY50t— Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) January 5, 2015
Hm, no call on that one.
As you could imagine, these bad calls drew a lot of criticism.
That is seriously one of biggest horseshit officiating jobs I've ever seen... and from a crew that was "good enough" to work a playoff game.— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) January 5, 2015
Comment @DeanBlandino ? Or should we wait til you're done hugging Jerry Jones?— Ed Kracz (@kracze) January 5, 2015
Wow just wow .... So the refs, jerry jones, league and networks get what they want.. Dallas at Green Bay— Derrick Gunn (@TheRealDGunnCSN) January 5, 2015
Many were also quick to point out how NFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino was hanging out on the Cowboys party bus in the offseason.
While the Lions certainly didn't get much help, they also have themselves to blame a little big. Scoring six points in the final three quarters certainly didn't help their cause.
Eagles fans will be frustrated to see that the Cowboys, Philadelphia's bitter NFC East rival, is advancing to the next round. They will be especially frustrated to see that the officials helped them get there.