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NFL officiating crew in controversial Lions-Cowboys game may be downgraded ahead of playoffs: report

The officiating crew that worked the game between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys could be downgraded before the postseason over the controversial call at the end of the game, according to an NFL insider.

Brad Allen and his crew drew the ire of the NFL world when a Lions go-ahead 2-point conversion late in the game was negated over a penalty. The discrepancy came over which offensive lineman reported as eligible. Taylor Decker said he was the player who reported as eligible but Dan Skipper was deemed to be the person.

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NFL insider Adam Schefter appeared on ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown” and explained the consequences of the penalty.

Brad Allen and the crew

Referee Brad Allen points while talking to his crew during the New York Jets and Houston Texans game at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 10, 2023, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Vincent Carchietta-USA Today Sports)

“This has generated an awful lot of reaction around the league as you might expect. And I think teams have found fault with both sides here,” Schefter said on the program. “They think the Lions tried to trick the Cowboys and instead tricked the officials by sending three offensive linemen over to the official when they say only one lineman should’ve been reporting. 

“And then the officials did miss the call. Brad Allen, got the wrong player reporting. And that’s been a continuation of a string of high-profile misses from the Brad Allen crew this year.”

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Schefter pointed to a series of other controversial calls around the NFL in which Allen’s crew was officiating.

“You remember earlier in the year, there was pass interference with (Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver) Marquez Valdes-Scantling that was not called – the same Brad Allen crew in this game where the (Green Bay Packers) defensive back goes over his shoulder. There was the pass interference call at Atlanta with the Saints that was not called when clearly it was pass interference that influenced that game. This was a roughing the passer penalty when (Cleveland Browns linebacker) Za’Darius Smith was fined but it was not called. And there’s one thread that ties together all those calls – it is the same Brad Allen crew time and time again.”

Schefter said it would be a “surprise” if anyone from Allen’s crew reaches the postseason.

Dan Campbell reacts

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell reacts to a call during the Dallas Cowboys game on Dec. 30, 2023, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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“Now, you will see mixed crews in the postseason and clearly this crew will be downgraded and it will be a surprise to see some of them reach the postseason,” Schefter said. “But that’s a decision the league will have to reach. 

“There will still be plenty of fallout from a decision that now very likely will influence how the NFC seeds are laid out and in the second round because Detroit right now seems locked into the third seed. Last night’s call could mean that the Lions in the divisional playoff round would play the NFC East winner rather than hosting that divisional playoff game.”

Carrington Valentine deflects a pass

Cornerback Carrington Valentine of the Packers attempts to deflect a pass intended for wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling of the Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau Field on Dec. 3, 2023, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Todd Rosenberg/Getty Images)

Head coach Dan Campbell was agitated after the game and suggested that he talked about this scenario with officials before the game.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said. “I explain everything pregame to a tee, OK? I did that.”

Allen explained the penalty in the pool report.

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“That conversation is where (Skipper) reports to me, and I then go to the defensive team, and I say to them ‘(Skipper) has reported as an eligible receiver,’ so they will be aware of who has reported and then I return to my position,” Allen said. “That was the conversation with the defensive line.”

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