'Terrible call': Penalty on Tracy Walker sends Lions defense to dubious distinction

Jim Russ
The Detroit News

Detroit — Looking to prevent setting a single-season franchise record for points allowed, the Lions did what the Lions do.

Detroit led off the fourth quarter Sunday with an impressive goal-line stand, stopping Minnesota Vikings running back Mike Boone at the 1 on consecutive plays to force fourth-and-goal. Kirk Cousins took the snap, dropped back to throw, and was drilled by Lions safety Tracy Walker for a turnover on downs.

As Walker got up to celebrate, a roughing-the-passer flag was thrown because Walker landed on Cousins while making the tackle.

“By rule, one of the categories for roughing the passer is full body weight, where the tackler lands with his full body weight on the quarterback,” referee Adrian Hill told pool reporter Paula Pasche. “That’s the category this play fell into.”

The Vikings set up for first-and-goal at the half-yard line; Cousins ran it up the middle for a touchdown two plays later. That wound up being the difference in Detroit not only winning the game, but also pushed the Lions to a franchise-record for points allowed in a single season (519).

“I said to the player who tackled me, 'I don’t necessarily agree with that call, but I’ll take it,'" Cousins said.

Austin Bryant and Tracy Walker, right, race down the field after Walker sacked Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth quarter, but a yellow flag is thrown for roughing the passer.

Walker was rather nice about the official’s decision afterward, saying, “Everybody saw it. It’s not on me to determine whether it was a good or bad call.”

Some of his teammates, however, didn’t beat around the bush. 

“Just a terrible call. That's probably one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen,” running back Adrian Peterson said. “In such a critical situation, fourth-and-1, that was a game changing-type play.”

“Especially when you see your quarterback take a helmet-to-helmet hit earlier in the game. It’s like their eyes were closed on that play.”

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