By Greg Price
As I enjoyed my lunch on Monday scanning articles on my beloved Dallas Cowboys’ 24-20 win over the Detroit Lions in the first round of National Football League playoffs, I’ve come to the conclusion many football fans must wear tin foil hats and swear their microwaves beeping are actually morse codes from North Korea’s plot to take over the world.
The message boards have lit up on referees ‘handing’ the Cowboys the game after a controversial pass interference call by linebacker Anthony Hitchens on Brandon Pettigrew was then reversed, leading to a Lions drive stalling and the Cowboys scoring the winning drive with about two minutes-plus left in the fourth quarter.
Given the Dallas Cowboys are America’s Team, owner Jerry Jones had adopted his role as Dr. Evil in his master plan to take over the world (the NFL) as the league must have wanted the Cowboys to win for ‘better ratings’ and such.
The Cowboys always get all the breaks and this was no different as Jones must have literally come down from his luxury box to pay off the referees to win the game.
If Jones can wield so much power, why has the Dallas Cowboys not had all the calls before.
The Cowboys had not made the playoffs for five years prior to Sunday’s win over the Lions.
The Cowboys have enjoyed a whopping two playoff victories, counting Sunday’s, since 1996.
If the fix is in every time the Dallas Cowboys are playing, given preferable treatment by the league, owner Jerry Jones must have not got the memo given the Cowboys futility, spanning nearly 20 years. Check in recent years since 2009, the Cowboys have seen their names among the top-five penalized teams with regularity.
If refs are being bribed by Jerry Jones to give his Cowboys an edge, they better return the money.
It makes the Lions fans’ roars (whining) and any other football fan of blaming the refs for Sunday’s game so laughable. Short of a call being the very last one of the game resulting in a touchdown or a touchdown called back that would have won/lost the game, it is impossible to say one call cost some team the game.
Lions and Cowboys fans can scream bloody murder of probably a half-dozen ‘controversial calls’ during the game on both sides that favoured the other team. If one non-call that occurred at midfield with plenty of time left in the contest for both sides to do something with it cost the Lions the game, then a half dozen other calls (or non-calls) that were just as questionable against the Cowboys should be analyzed.
A blatant block in the back on the Lions’ first touchdown drive, a running into the kicker and hold on Jason Witten as no calls were incidences that had just as much capacity to influence the game as Hitchens’ pass interference penalty which had the flag picked up. But apparently, those calls are not as important to screaming NFL fans in which the ‘fix was in.’
Nor was the thank-you basket the Detroit Lions should have given the league for allowing Ndamukong Suh, the Detroit Lions’ Pro-Bowl defensive tackle, for playing after being originally suspended one game for stomping on Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers the previous week. The Detroit Lions had the league’s leading run defence and Suh was a big reason why. If he is not in that game, there is no way the Dallas Cowboys, with their three first-round draft picks on the offensive line and the league’s leading rusher in DeMarco Murray, are held to double digits rushing, which would have influenced the game greatly.
Even with the ‘travesty’ of justice of the controversial pass interference non-call, the Lions had a 4th-and-one at midfield and a three-point lead. If the head coach has that little of faith in his team that they can’t convert that when the Cowboys converted a 4th-and-six on their winning drive, you can’t come back screaming conspiracy afterwards. If the Lions had failed in their fourth-down attempt, they still have a three-point lead and one of the league’s best defences to win the game for them. That, plus scoring only three points in the second half, the Lions only have themselves (including their punter who muffed a kick 10 yards on a fourth down and gave the Cowboys favourable field position on its winning drive) to blame.
But as with any nutbar conspiracy theorists and their foil hats, they don’t like to let facts or common sense get in the way of a good conspiracy.
Should that pass interference call have been made? Probably, but then any football fan can rewind the game tape and argue a dozen incidences of calls or non-calls that could have influenced the game.
The key words being ‘could have.’ What definitely would have won the game for the Lions would have been converting on that 4th-and-one and running out the clock, scoring more than three points in the second half, not holding defensively that prolonged Cowboys drives or stopping that final game-winning drive. The Lions had multiple chances to put the game away after a sluggish Cowboys first half. But relying on one call in a poorly officiated game on both sides should not be a thing a team relies on.
So for all you football conspiracy theorists out there, take a deep breath and take off the tin foil hat and let this Cowboys fan enjoy this moment. After nearly 20 years of futility, I guess I’ll just say haters are gonna hate.