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Referee Pete Morelli Defends Decision To Pick Up Pass Interference Call

By Andrew Porter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pass interference was called. Pass interference was announced. And then, unprecedentedly, pass interference was cancelled.

With 8:25 remaining, the Lions led the Cowboys 20-17 in Sunday’s NFC wildcard playoff game. On a 3rd-and-1 for Detroit on Dallas’ 46-yard line, Cowboys rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens appeared to make contact with Lions tight end and intended receiver Brandon Pettigrew. A flag was thrown and referee Pete Morelli announced the penalty, but then picked up the flag and changed the call about 40 seconds later.

“The back judge threw his flag for defensive pass interference,” Morelli said after the game in a report. “We got other information from another official from a different angle that thought the contact was minimal and didn’t warrant pass interference. He thought it was face guarding.”

The Lions were forced to punt and the Cowboys went on to score the game-winning points on their next drive.

“The information came and then the officials got together a little bit later after it was given to me, the first information,” Morelli said. “It probably would’ve been smoother if we got together.”

The Lions weren’t pleased with the reversed non-call.

“I thought it was ridiculous, to be honest,” Pettigrew said after the game. “But there’s nothing I can do about it. He ran through me pretty much, trying to get back to the ball. To me, it was obvious. To them they made whatever call and picked up the flag.”

“I thought it was a good call at first,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “I was told he did not make contact with the receiver. I thought it was the right call until he picked up the flag. I thought it was a penalty but that’s not my decision.”

Watch Mike Pereira explain the no-call:


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