This week, the Lions and Vikings will be sent Walt Anderson from the NFL. If that name sounds familiar or perhaps even infamous to Detroit fans, it should. Anderson presided over one of the more controversial finishes in the NFL this season back in September when the Lions played the Kansas City Chiefs.
Back then, Anderson ruled a fumble near the goal line by the Lions was a live ball and could be returned all the way for a touchdown. The Lions ended up losing a close game, and Anderson’s crew and their interpretation of rules and non-calls was a major reason why.
An official in the league since 2003, Anderson has come under fire plenty for his inability to make the correct calls on the field. At times, he’s also missed plenty of calls, which has led to plenty of outrage about Anderson the referee.
NFL Stood Behind Walt Anderson’s Call in Detroit
In a review of the critical call in September, the league’s head official Al Riveron hopped on a video and explained just why Anderson and his crew made the right call according to them. It had everything to do with judgement, and according to Riveron, the judgement on the field was correct in the play.
Here’s a look at the video explaining why that is the case according to the league figurehead:
“The officials rule fumble, number 21 picks it up. No one touches him, he runs it back for a score. Since we have not only a turnover but a score, New York gets involved and we review this play,” Riveron says. “We see plenty of space before the runner hits the ground. We see the ball up, and as the ball starts to come loose the runner hits the ground. There’s nothing clear and obvious to allow us to change the ruling on the field of a fumble.”
The mistake Lions fans felt the refs made? Not calling the Kansas City player down or blowing the whistle. But that is something Riveron said he thinks was a great job of officiating by Anderson that day.
“This was a great job by the crew by not blowing the whistle and allowing the play to continue,” Riveron says in conclusion.
Lions Fans Frustrated With Walt Anderson
The Lions suffered from a number of frustrating calls on that day with Anderson, not the least of which was a last second deep pass which could have drawn interference. The league, though ruled that no review was needed of the play, which happened as the game expired. if there had been a penalty on the play, it would have meant an untimed down for the Lions inside of the red zone of the Chiefs.
Kenny Golladay’s overturned touchdown catch was another close call which did not go in the direction Detroit had hoped. Golladay appeared to squeeze the ball and get two feet down near the goal line in the back of the end zone. The play was initially ruled a touchdown, but apparently referees found enough evidence on tape to overturn that call on the field.
As for Anderson, it will be the fifth Detroit game the referee has worked since 2017. Safe to say after the one in September, fans are probably over him.