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Lions ‘confused’ as refs negate late 2-point try in Cowboys win

ARLINGTON, Texas — Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell was visibly frustrated after a controversial penalty negated what would have been a go-ahead 2-point conversion late in Saturday night’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Officials flagged Lions offensive lineman Taylor Decker after he caught a pass that appeared to be the potential winner with 23 seconds left. However, Decker was called for an illegal touching penalty for not reporting as eligible.

The Cowboys ultimately denied the Lions’ 2-point try and won 20-19.

“Would you be frustrated right now?” Campbell said afterward. “I don’t like losing, and that’s what happened. We lost, and that bothers me. I don’t like having an L, so that’s the frustration.”

The Lions and the refs gave contradictory accounts afterward, with quarterback Jared Goff saying definitively that Decker, the Lions’ starting left tackle, reported as an eligible receiver and that Dan Skipper, a backup offensive tackle, did not. Skipper also said afterward that he did not report to an official.

However, in a pool report, referee Brad Allen said the opposite, that Skipper reported to him as eligible and Decker did not.

“Therefore, he is an ineligible touching a pass that goes beyond the line, which makes it a foul,” Allen said of Decker in the pool report. “So, the issue is, number 70 did report, number 68 did not.”

Video showed Decker having a conversation with Allen, who then said something to the Cowboys’ defense.

“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,” Allen said in the pool report.

Inside the Lions’ locker room after the loss, Decker and Skipper declined to speak in depth about the penalty. Instead, Decker said he did “exactly what Coach told me to do.” Skipper said he had “very few words that aren’t going to get me fined.”

With 1:41 remaining on Detroit’s final drive and the Lions trailing 20-13, Campbell told his players that they were going for the win and would continue to be aggressive.

Receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown caught an 11-yard touchdown from Goff with 23 seconds remaining that brought Detroit to within 20-19. But the Lions failed on three 2-point conversion attempts. The first two attempts were called back by penalties, one against the Lions and one against the Cowboys, and the final play was an incomplete pass to tight end James Mitchell.

Goff said he was “pretty confused” by the flag on Decker.

“Yeah, that sucks. It’s unfortunate, man,” Goff said. “I don’t know if I’ve had this feeling before where you feel like you’ve won, and you didn’t. With that being said though, the next two plays we had shots at it.”

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