Washington — President Barack Obama said if he were a Lions fan, he would be "pretty aggravated" over a reversed pass interference call Sunday in the fourth quarter of the Detroit Lions-Dallas Cowboys playoff game.

With the Lions holding a 20-17 lead midway through the fourth quarter, an official announced a pass interference penalty by Dallas linebacker Anthony Hitchens against Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew.

The penalty on the third-down play would have given the Lions a new set of four downs and moved them into field goal range.

Referee Pete Morelli announced the penalty, but seconds later, said there was no infraction.

The Lions decided to punt on fourth down and 1 yard to go, and Sam Martin's 10-yard shank helped set up the Cowboys' game-winning drive.

Obama watched the Lions game and told The Detroit News in a Tuesday interview he couldn't "remember a circumstance in which a good call by one of the refs is argued about by an opposing player of the other team with his helmet off on the field, which in and of itself is supposed to be a penalty. The call is announced and then reversed without explanation. I haven't seen that before — so I will leave it up to the experts to make the judgment as to why that happen — but I can tell you if I was a Lions fan I'd be pretty aggravated."

The comment came ahead of his trip to Michigan to visit a Ford Motor Co. plant in Wayne, where he will meet Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr., who is a vice chairman of the Lions — the team is owned by the Ford family.

But Obama noted his hometown Chicago Bears had a losing record and missed the playoffs.

"Given the performance of my Bears, I can't have too much sympathy for the Lions," Obama said.

"You guys were in a lot better position than we were. I'd love to have your defense right now."

dshepardson@detroitnews.com

(202) 662-8735

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