Caldwell doesn't want Lions to dwell on missed call

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Lions coach Jim Caldwell saw Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright bat the ball out of the end zone on the controversial no-call that gave Seattle a possession instead of the Lions having the ball inside the 1 late in a 13-10 loss Monday.

Caldwell knew call the officials were supposed to make, and based on postgame interviews from both locker rooms, he was among the few people who knew the rule that could've given the Lions a few more chances to take the lead. Looking back, though, Caldwell was most concerned that a certain group didn't understand the rule.

"There's obviously officials that don't know the rule, as well," he said Tuesday.

The Lions are trying to move past the controversial call that went against them late in the fourth quarter of the loss that dropped them to 0-4. Caldwell said he planned to tell his players not to discuss the officials missing Wright illegally batting the ball out of the end zone after Calvin Johnson fumbled the would-be, go-ahead touchdown, a penalty that would've given the Lions first-and-goal with 1:45 remaining.

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"That'll distract you, and you'll get your ears kicked in come Sunday afternoon," he said. "So we don't plan to let that happen, so we plan to make certain that our guys focus in on (the game).

"We can't be hanging on something that happened a night ago that we can do nothing about."

There was nothing the Lions could do about it during the game either as penalties are not reviewable.

Caldwell said he saw field judge Buddy Horton grab his flag, but back judge Greg Wilson was the man looking directly at Wright as he batted the ball and chose not to call a penalty.

Caldwell and Blandino

Caldwell said he talked to Dean Blandino, the NFL's vice president of officiating on Tuesday. Blandino admitted after the game that the game officials missed the call, but Caldwell said his conversation with Blandino was "privileged."

After the game, Blandino discussed the improper officiating on NFL Network.

"You can't bat the ball in any direction in the end zone, either end zone," Blandino said on TV shortly after the game. "So, K.J. Wright batted the football; that is a foul for an illegal bat."

However, Wilson decided Wright's batting was not overt, so he didn't throw a flag. Wright admitted after the game he pushed the ball out for fear that an attempt to corral it would give the Lions a chance to recover.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll's postgame comments indicated he didn't fully understand the rule, saying the Lions could've challenged intent even though penalties are not reviewable. On 710-AM Seattle, Carroll said Tuesday he didn't know the rule.

"That was a smart play," Carroll said, via ESPN.com. "He wasn't aware of the rule. I would have done the exact same thing. I didn't know that rule either. I've never even seen it come up, and I've been coaching for I don't even know how many years. I don't know if anyone would have known that.

"Anybody sitting on their couch at home can say, 'Well, I would have done it.' It happened so gracefully. He did just a little tap on the ball, and it's over in the direction it was going. It was going out anyway. So you can see why the (official) maybe didn't see the thing."

'I don't want it to linger'

Seattle safety Kam Chancellor, who forced the critical fumble, said he didn't know anything about the legality of Wright's play, and Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said the ball bounced out before someone asked about Wright batting it.

"It doesn't put a win in the win column for us," Stafford said of being on the wrong end of another rules issue.

Caldwell spoke about the error for about two minutes during the opening statement of his weekly news conference Tuesday but declined to answer questions about the incident.

"I don't want it to linger," he said. "I don't want our guys talking about it because it's over and done with. ... We saw obviously Calvin with the ball in his hand, ball comes out and then I actually saw the young man bat the ball out.

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"(The officials) all started to confer, so I knew it was a discussion going on there just in terms of the rule and how it works."

But, that conference didn't help the Lions as there was no debate over when Johnson lost the ball, and the penalty was not reviewable.

"Once they figured they had it ironed out, obviously it's out of our control," Caldwell said. "It had to be reviewed and looked at by them upstairs. Once it was completed, then we had to look at ways to try and make certain we got the ball back."

The Lions didn't get the ball back as the Seahawks had a 50-yard pass play on third down, which was enough to run out the remaining time.

"They've got to be held accountable, just as players are in terms of equipment violations, whatever it may be," Lions safety James Ihedigbo said of the officials. "There's a standard that players are held to on the field. There's a standard that coaches are held to on the field. There has to be a standard that officials are held to, as well. You can't just apologize."

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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