In a week where the most important NFL action was taking place on the sidelines and where seemingly every game exploded into a cacophony of madness at one point or another, the Detroit Lions elected to spend Sunday afternoon honoring their proud heritage of failure and losing in the most heartbreaking way possible.
That the Lions, long one of the NFL’s greatest laughing stocks, would lose to an Atlanta Falcons team that – if only temporarily – held a huge lead in the Super Bowl just last season, is not surprising. It’s the manner of Detroit’s defeat that made this loss so particularly painful. After trailing all afternoon, the Lions marched down the field and appeared to take their first lead of the game with only eight seconds left on the clock as Matthew Stafford found Golden Tate on a quick in-route at the goal line.
The play, ruled a touchdown on the field, was sureview, as are all touchdowns. Replays of the play made it clear that there was certainly room for debate as to whether or not Tate was down by contact just short of the goal line. That no single camera angle showed conclusive proof that Tate is both down and touched by an opposing player before crossing the goal line – the latter portion being an important aspect of “down by contact” – did not stop the officials from overturning the on-field ruling and taking Detroit’s touchdown off the board.
While Lions fans were certainly aggrieved at this first portion of the revised ruling, it was no fresh experience; after all they’ve witnessed, “long-suffering” is the default epithet for all Lions fans. Luckily for Detroit, the Tate non-touchdown was a third down play, meaning they at least had one more shot for a victory on fourth down.
Or so you might have thought.
Read the rest of this post at The Read Option.