Few coaches in football can match Dan Campbell’s aggressiveness. On Saturday, his aggressive 2-point decision came up just short, albeit with the help of a controversial penalty.
The Lions scored a touchdown with 23 seconds remaining against the Cowboys in a pivotal matchup for playoff seeding. Campbell had a call to make: kick the game-tying point-after or go for 2 and the win. Everyone knew the decision he’d make: go for 2.
The aggressive call appeared to pay off. Jared Goff hit offensive lineman Taylor Decker for the conversion. However, Decker was called for illegal touching after officials said he did not report in as eligible. Two attempts later, Goff’s pass fell incomplete and the Lions lost 20-19.
“The explanation was 70 [offensive tackle Dan Skipper] reported,” Dan Campbell said after the game. “Two people can’t report. I don’t want to talk about it. I explained everything pregame to a T. 70 reported. 68 didn’t. We threw it to 68. That was the explanation.”
“He’s on the end of the line and he’s been playing that ineligible position. So if he’s gonna be on the end of the line and be eligible, he needed to report, as well.” pic.twitter.com/36ZXXgxZA7
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) December 31, 2023
On an overhead replay, it appeared Decker went over to talk to an official, who began to walk away not long after Detroit’s left tackle had a conversation with him.
Goff literally sends Decker over to report.
Gonna need a new story, officials pic.twitter.com/9lUbyQFChV
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) December 31, 2023
ESPN rules analyst John Parry said on ESPN after the game two players can report as eligible, though during the game, he explained that Decker also lined up uncovered, which would have been a penalty even if he had reported in as eligible.
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 31, 2023
After the game, Skipper told reporters he did not report as eligible and Decker said he reported himself. Skipper said he did not say anything to officials. Decker believed he did everything needed of him, while Goff said he believed Decker reported and Skipper did not.
“Pretty confused,” Goff said. “What I do know, and I don’t know if I’ll get fined for this. But I do know that Decker reported. I do know that Dan Skipper did not. And I do know that they said that Dan Skipper did.”
Referee Brad Allen said in a pool report that Skipper had reported as eligible several times during the game, and that it was he, not Decker, that reported as eligible on the 2-point conversion. Allen said after Skipper reported as eligible, he told the Cowboys it was No. 70 (Skipper) that was eligible and not No. 68 (Decker).
He then added that because it was Skipper who was reported as eligible and he was covered on the line, there was also an illegal formation penalty.
As if going for 2 and the win wasn’t a bold enough call, Campbell didn’t back off the gas even after the penalty on the Decker 2-point conversion. He still sent the offense back out to try for 2 all the way back at the Cowboys’ 7-yard line.
“We were going for the win,” Campbell said explaining his decision to go for 2 after the penalty.
Detroit ran a play and got Micah Parsons to jump offsides, though Goff’s attempt was intercepted.
That moved the Lions halfway back to the goal line. At the 3-and-half yard line for a third, 2-point conversion attempt, Goff again dropped back to pass. This one was to tight end James Mitchell, but it fell incomplete. No flags, no extra points, no lead. The Lions went for the on-side kick, but Dallas recovered to secure the victory.
After an insane sequence of events, the @dallascowboys D makes a huge stop on the 2-pt attempt.
— NFL (@NFL) December 31, 2023
“I told the offense that we were going down, 1:41 left, we were going to go down and score and then we were going to go for 2 and finish this game out. I told them that. So that’s what we were doing,” Campbell said.
What is illegal touching?
Per the NFL rules, there are several factors that make a player ineligible. For starters, the player has to be either not on the end of the line or at least a yard behind the line when the ball is snapped. Offensive players between 50 and 79 are illegal unless reporting in as eligible to the referee and are either on the end of the line or in the backfield.
Campbell explained that while an offensive lineman reported, he said it was Skipper that reported as eligible and not Decker, the intended receiver on the play. Therefore, it would have been an illegal touching penalty.
Source : ESPN.com