The Detroit Lions were doomed again by an insanely bad call in their season-ending loss to the Minnesota Vikings, and once again, folks were very frustrated with how it played out.
When Lions safety Tracy Walker barreled into quarterback Kirk Cousins early in the fourth quarter and sacked him with the Vikings driving near Detroit’s goal line, a roughing the passer penalty was called to the dismay of many. One such person was Matthew Stafford’s wife, Kelly Stafford.
Stafford, never shy to make her opinion known, wondered aloud in an Instagram post if referees get fined for making “bull**** calls.” Here’s a look:
Kelly Stafford weighing in!! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 pic.twitter.com/Oh4gnl3w57
— Sweta Patel (@sweta2311) January 3, 2021
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Lions Roughing Call Deemed ‘Worst Ever’
The call was questioned immediately in the moment by multiple spectators, many of whom, including some at The Detroit Free Press, said it was one of the worst calls in league history or the worst call they have ever seen.
OMG THIS REF REALLY TRYING HIS BEST TO FIX THIS GAME pic.twitter.com/WiCB2rudnR
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) January 3, 2021
Officials do not get fined for bad calls, but poor performance is something that can cost them future assignments.
By now it is well-known that referees will take care of the quarterback at most, if not all, costs. However, there was nothing remotely dangerous about Walker’s actions on the play, rather it was a case of the third-year safety making a football play and trying to tackle the quarterback. To flag it for a 15-yard personal foul at such a critical point in the game was a terrible decision by the officials. Quite honestly, Stafford is right and there should be consequences for mistakes that referees make in the moment.
Head Referee Defends Controversial Call
After the game, pool reporter Paula Pasche caught up with head referee Adrian Hill, who defended the call as a clear-cut penalty under the “full body weight” category of the roughing the passer foul.
Referee Adrian Hill said the hit from Lions safety Tracy Walker on Vikings QB Kirk Cousins was a clear-cut penalty pic.twitter.com/SQOtLA8nvO
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) January 3, 2021
The officiating crew for Sunday’s game had another tough moment about four minutes after the roughing call when they ruled a 38-yard Marvin Jones touchdown incomplete after many felt as if the Lions had clearly scored. Both plays could have had a direct role in the 37-35 losing outcome for Detroit.
“It sucks because we’ve become accustomed to calls like that here,” Jones told reporters after the loss, via Sports Illustrated’s All Lions. “I don’t know why, but it is what it is.”
Stafford has seen her fair share of bad calls go against Detroit during her husband’s time with the team, and this was yet another example of that. Clearly, she is frustrated with how Sunday played out and how it continues to play out.
Lions’ Struggles Against Referees
The Lions have been one of the worst-off teams in recent history against poor officiating. Detroit, typically, is burned by a few calls late in the game that shifts any positive momentum toward its opponents. Far too often, the team has managed to lose games in which things like this play out.
Through the years, the Lions have been doomed by a moving football, a player who wasn’t ruled down, a 10-second runoff call, a batted ball out of the end zone, multiple phantom hands-to-the face penalties, and so on. The list only seems to grow deeper every single year as the Lions find themselves in more close games.
Many are still unhappy to see that the referees seem to get away with messing with the Lions every single year with no response from the NFL as to why these things keep happening. It’s clear the belief is strong that the league simply has it out for the Lions.