Top 10 Controversial Calls in Detroit Lions History

John Weeast@@johnweeastContributor IIISeptember 27, 2012

Top 10 Controversial Calls in Detroit Lions History

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    After the controversy in the Green Bay Packers vs Seattle Seahawks game, I didn't need to look too far into history to find controversial calls in Detroit Lions history. 

    Thank the heavens that the NFL and NFL Referees Association agreed to end the lockout (per Now we can be rid of bad calls forever. 

    Um, no. 

    I will not be celebrating too heavily on the return of the regular refs. 

    First, I don't live in Wisconsin.

    Secondly, I remember way too many controversial calls that have cost the Detroit Lions games. There's even been a few that helped us win, but we don't like to mention those too loudly. 

    From flags for legal tackles to coin flips, referees are almost as hated as division rivals. 

    Let's see why. 

No. 10: Levy's Face-Mask Penalty on Joe Webb

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    This is one of two calls that went the Lions' way. 

    As you can see from the picture, it was an obvious face-mask penalty that was somehow missed. 

    The explanation:

    Det-Min game.Foul occurred while player's back was to ref & player was running away. Ref was in correct position, but foul was hard to see.

    — Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) December 11, 2011


    As a fan, I'd buy that. The only problem is, those horns on the side of the head are so damn big, it would be hard to miss from where the referee was standing.

    His responsibility was to watch Toby Gerhardt, which put him in the perfect position to see this play. Did he fall for the fake handoff too?

    That would have been the best explanation of a blown call ever. 

    Webb ended up fumbling, which ended the game with a 34-28 Detroit win. Had it been called, it would have been an untimed down, and who knows what would have happened. 

No. 9: Replacement Refs Give 27 Yards for Personal Foul Penalty

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    This was one penalty that they got right. The issue here is that the yardage marked was completely wrong, and it gave a big advantage to the Tennessee Titans

    Stephen Tulloch was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit after a catch that was later reviewed as incomplete. 

    A standard 15-yard penalty. What wasn't so standard is that they decided to walk off those 15 yards starting at the Detroit 44-yard line instead of the Tennessee 44.

    This put the Titans at the 29-yard line and in field-goal range instead of at the 41. 

    I was going to go easy on the replacement refs, but this call wasn't just the fault of the replacements. The alternate ref was in contact with the replay official—a regular referee.

    But what's 12 extra yards in overtime?

No. 8: Greg Jennings Runs into Brandon McDonald on Underthrown Pass

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    While everyone remember Ndamukong Suh's stomp in this Thanksgiving Day game, this pass interference was the worst call of the day. 

    On a 1st-and-10 on the Detroit 13 after a Matthew Stafford interception, Aaron Rodgers under threw Greg Jennings. Coming back to the ball, he initiated contact with Brandon McDonald and drew a pass-interference penalty. 

    It should have been a no-call or offensive pass interference because he was in motion towards the ball. If he had been stationary or still moving towards the back of the end zone, it would have been justified. 

    This gave Green Bay a first down and led to its first touchdown of the day.

    Momentum usually swings on these types of plays, and the Packers had all the momentum after that point of the game. 

No. 7: Kyle Vanden Bosch's Phantom Roughing the Passer

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    In the same Thanksgiving game, Greg Jennings was flagged for offensive pass interference. 

    But the football gods don't allow penalties on the Packers. 

    The refs flagged Kyle Vanden Bosch for roughing the passer that obviously wasn't roughing the passer. He left his feet as Rodgers released the ball, and it wasn't a helmet-to-helmet hit. 

    It allowed the drive to continue and put enough of a cushion to prevent a Lions comeback. 

No. 6: Horse-Collar Hair

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    Ndamukong Suh was showing off his strength again and did what everyone has wanted to do at least once in their life. He pulled Marion Barber down by his hair.  

    The ref obviously wasn't included in "everyone," because he threw a flag for a horse-collar tackle. 

    Is it even possible to see or get to Barber's collar through those dreads? 

    I'd like to offer my advice to future NFL offensive players. Keep your hair short. Don't give defenses an easy and humorous way to tackle you. 

No. 5: Inadvertent Whistle in the Dome

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    Detroit finally reaches the playoffs after years of failure as a franchise and the refs play games with us again. 

    It could have been even worse. 

    In the second quarter, up 14-7, Willie Young hit Drew Brees so hard the Saints players offered him cash. 

    No, not really. 

    Young forced a fumble that was picked up by Justin Durant, who went untouched into the end zone. This put Detroit up 21-7. 

    Butand you knew the but was coming—a referee blew a whistle. He thought it was an incomplete pass. No one else thought so, but he blew the whistle. 

    It was reviewed and ruled as a fumble and placed at the spot of the recovery because of that whistle. 

    The whistle also should have given the ball back to the Saints. Thankfully, it didn't, but it erased an easy touchdown that could have kept the momentum in the Lions favor. 

    To make up for it, the refs decided to not call penalties the rest of the game, allowing the Saints to win. 

No. 4: The Touchdown That Wasn't

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    The is the game that made Matt Flynn the highest-paid backup in NFL History. 

    Down 17-16 at the Packers' 11-yard line, Matthew Stafford threw a pass that Titus Young caught for a clear touchdown. He had two feet down inbounds, clear control of the ball and maintained possession throughout the process. 

    Oh, wrong catch. It was a touchdown, but it was ruled incomplete. 

    Because of bad calls earlier in the game, the Lions couldn't challenge the play. They settled for a field goal. 

    A four-point swing in a game they lost by four. 

    You're welcome, Matt Flynn. 

No. 3: I Said Tails

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    Phil Luckett wasn't sent to Siberia, but he should have been. 

    This was another controversy that actually went in our favor.  Because it was so bad, it deserves its spot on the list. 

    Detroit played the Pittsburgh Steelers to a tie. Now came the simple task of the overtime coin flip. Jerome Bettis had the honor of calling it, and he called tails.

    The entire world knew he called tails because Luckett had his microphone on. He called out that they called heads, and Bettis repeatedly said he called tails before the coin hit the ground, but to no avail. 

    Detroit was awarded the ball and won on a field goal by Jason Hanson

No. 2: The People's Elbow

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    Playing against the Chicago Bears always brings out the ferocity between both teams. Ed Hochuli thought Ndamukong Suh brought more ferocity than needed. 

    Chasing Jay Cutler out of the pocket, Suh hit Cutler with two hands in the back. It was a perfectly legal tackle. 

    Or a shove. 

    Hochuli believed that it was a hit to the head with his elbow, but it wasn't even close. It was two hands on his upper back.

    Chicago scored the winning touchdown on the next play. 

    To add insult to injury, the league fined Suh $15,000 for the hit, even with all the video evidence to the contrary. 

No. 1: The Calvin Rule

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    To have a rule named after you usually means one of a few things:

    1. They had to change the game because whatever you were doing was game-breaking.

    2. They messed up. 

    Want to guess which this was? OK, maybe that was the wrong question. Calvin is a freak, not game-breaking. They messed up. 

    Shaun Hill threw a perfectly-placed pass to Calvin Johnson in the back of the end zone towards the end of the fourth quarter. Calvin elevates and catches it over two defenders. 

    As he comes down, both feet touch, both buttocks touch, and as he reaches over to stand up, the ball comes out of his hand. One ref rules touchdown, and as he celebrates, the refs gather. Since there is less than two minutes left to play, all replays come from the booth and it's being reviewed. 

    They rule it an incomplete pass. 

    The process of a catch apparently doesn't recognize standing as a football move. If two feet, two buttocks and one hand before standing doesn't constitute a catch, I don't know what does. 

    If he had bobbled the ball in anyway, I could understand the ruling. He caught it with two hands, shifted it to one and then was clearly moving to stand. The ball was never in danger of coming out otherwise. 

    Welcome back, refs. 

    Do you agree? Disagree? Have any I might have overlooked? 

    Let me know in the comments!