Dan Campbell: Lions must play hand dealt after potential missed call
Detroit — The Detroit Lions have found themselves on the wrong side of another late-game officiating controversy.
According to the CBS broadcast of Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the play clock expired by more than two seconds before the snap on the play before Justin Tucker's game-winning, NFL record, 66-yard field goal.
Had the previous play been blown dead, and a delay-of-game penalty assessed, it would have pushed the Ravens out of Tucker's field-goal range with seven seconds remaining.
The CBS postgame crew, which included former official Gene Steratore, uniformly agreed officials made a mistake, breaking down the replay of the potentially blown call after the game.
"The back judge, in this case, would be looking at that play clock and tacking his eyes from the clock back to the ball," Steratore explained. "When he sees zero on the play clock, he takes his head directly down to the football. That snap needs to occur exactly at that time. Is there an extra second build in there? Yeah, there is, just because of the human element of play clock down to snap, that's for sure. It does feel like that's a little longer from your normal progression from a zero back down."
In a phone call after the game, the head official from the Lions-Ravens game, Scott Novak, said he was unsure whether the broadcast clock matched up with the on-field clock, and while he had not reviewed the play in question shortly after the game, he was confident the back judge was in position to properly executed the mechanics of monitoring the snap.
“I don’t know if they’re synced up or not," Novak said. "But as far as our mechanics, the back judge is looking at the play clock and if it were to hit zero, he sees the zero, and he then looks to see if the ball is being snapped. If the ball is being snapped, we will let the play go. If it’s not moving, it’s delay of game. Those are the mechanics that we apply on that play.”
Lions coach Dan Campbell wasn't sure if the officials missed the call, but he didn't want to dwell on the possibility, highlighting that the Lions surrendered a 36-yard completion on fourth-and-19 a play earlier.
"Yeah, there's nothing I can say to that, because it's the same thing," Campbell said. "Tomorrow you'll get an apology (from the league) and it doesn't mean anything. That's life. That's the hand we were dealt and we still had an opportunity. That was fourth and a long way to go and we gave it up."