Matthew Stafford still irked by play

ByMichael Rothstein ESPN logo
Sunday, January 11, 2015

It has been a week since the Detroit Lions lost to the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs, and how his team lost still irks quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Stafford, a guest analyst on ESPN's "Postseason NFL Countdown" on Sunday, was asked about the pass-interference flag that was picked up during Dallas' 24-20 win over Detroit that started a stream of events leading to the Cowboys' winning touchdown.

"It's still tough to swallow," Stafford said.

Stafford was miked up for the game and was shown asking official Pete Morelli about the picked-up flag after the play, where officials reversed a pass-interference call against Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens while guarding Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew on a third-and-1 in the fourth quarter with Detroit leading 20-17.

Stafford went on to say that both teams played well and the Lions still had a chance to win, but the worst part is when refs end up playing a big role in the outcome of the game.

"The worst part, the worst thing that can happen is for the refs, the third part of that game, to play a big role in it," Stafford said Sunday. "The Cowboys were playing good football, we were playing good football, we would have liked to decide that a little bit more on the field."

Stafford's comments veer a little bit from what general manager Martin Mayhew said Thursday: that the Lions still had chances to win but that the Cowboys deserved the victory.

Directly after the game, Lions coach Jim Caldwell said the explanation he was given for why the flag was picked up was "not good enough." The NFL's director of officiating, Dean Blandino, said in interviews last week that there could have been defensive holding called on the play but that the pass-interference call was more debatable.

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