FOOTBALL OFFICIALS REVERSING THEMSELVES. A playoff game which will probably be long remembered took place over the weekend. It will be remembered because of one play. (Some think it will be known as the “Phantom Flag Game”.) Late in the last quarter of a close game between the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys, the officials called a penalty for pass interference. The officials enforced the penalty by spotting the ball where the penalty would have placed it. Suddenly, it was announced that there was no penalty, but no further explanation was given. After the game, the lead official said only that there had been a difference of opinion between two officials.
There was general agreement by the former players and coaches who were on television that they had never seen a penalty reversed after it seemed to have been enforced. This article by Nate Scott on USA Today has a video of the play and quotes from Twitter (Barry Sanders:”Wow… never seen a flag picked up like that”; Tony Dungy: “That’s pretty unbelievable that they could call pass interference and then pick up the flag with no explanation?? Not sure why?”).
There was much discussion after the game about whether there should have been a penalty for pass interference. It seemed that a majority of the commenters, including a former head of officials, thought it was pass interference. However, there were dissenters. Here is a discussion of some of the issues by Kevin Seifert at ESPN.