The Dallas Cowboys beat the Detroit Lions by the skin of their teeth. Granted, they should've had the game won with time to spare, but Mike McCarthy's play-calling and middle school clock management gave the Lions a puncher's chance and they nearly delivered a knockout blow in the final minute.
Luckily for McCarthy, a controversial Lions penalty saved the day. After scoring a touchdown to make the score 20-19, Detroit opted to go for two. They converted, but it was called back for an "illegal touching" on Taylor Decker, who caught the touchdown, for not reporting as eligible before the snap.
However, the ESPN broadcast caught Jared Goff instructing Decker to report as eligible. An overhead camera angle then showed the left tackle motion toward the refs, seemingly to report as a receiver. It's impossible to know what Decker said to the refs, but it's fair to assume he reported.
It really looks like the refs stole a victory from the Lions.
New angle of controversial Lions penalty shows Cowboys got lucky to win
There's obviously a ton of gray area here. Lions head coach Dan Campbell said after the game that the refs told him guard Dan Skipper reported as eligible, implying that two linemen can't report as eligible on the same play. Skipper told reporters in the locker room that he didn't say anything to officials, which opens up another door of questions.
ESPN officiating analyst John Parry clarified that two eligible linemen can report to play the opposite position that they need to.
"Taylor Decker also walks over the official and you only do that if you're telling the official you're reporting as and eligible. I don't know if he just didn't hear that or what. They said that only Dan Skipper reported, but the evidence is on the tape," Parry said, via Yahoo Sports.
"Two is not the issue. The issue here tonight is did Brad Allen hear, did Brad Allen recognize visually or verbally with No. 68? I don't think he does."
We're hard-pressed not to take the Lions side here.
After all, the Cowboys were victimized by an illegal formation penalty against the Eagles in Week 9 when they had a touchdown wiped out because Chuma Edoga didn't report as eligible even though Dak Prescott confirmed with the official that Edoga declared.
The Lions still had two shots at the two-point conversion after that thanks to a Micah Parsons offsides penalty. And even if the two-point conversion stood, the Cowboys had 28 seconds left to get into field goal range with a kicker who has range from 60 yards.
Still, it's hard to watch these plays and not draw the conclusion that the Cowboys probably should've lost this game.