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Cowboys Playoff Victory: Breaking Down The Pass Interference Non-Call

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Whining about a non-call is just an excuse.

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

It seems all non-Cowboys fans want to talk about is the non-call of pass interference on Anthony Hitchens while covering Brandon Pettigrew late in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys/Lions playoff game. Fine. We'll talk about it, but we won't talk about it in a vacuum, we'll talk about it in context of the game.

First of all, was it pass interference? Yes, on both players! It's funny how no one, except a few rational individuals, seem to notice that Brandon Pettigrew grabbed Anthony Hitchens' facemask on the play. For a really precise breakdown of the whole play go here, for the pertinent part of Pettigrew's transgression:

As the ball approached at 25-yard line, both Pettigrew and Hitchens initiated contact with each other. Pettigrew put his hands on Hitchens' face mask, which could (and should) have been a penalty for violating Rule 12, Section 2, Article 14 of the NFL rule book. ("No player shall grasp and control, twist, turn push or pull the facemask of an opponent in any direction.")

Don't believe me?

hitchens_facemask

UPDATE: From the comments, a Vine that shows the facemask and it shows that the reason Hitchens' arm comes up is to knock Pettigrew's hand off his facemask. Also makes the point it was impossible for Hitchens to turns his head, it was being held in place!

There is also no question about Hitchens holding Pettigrew even before the pass was thrown.

hitchens_hold

So, what we really have here is offsetting calls, regardless if you think there is pass interference on Hitchens once the ball is thrown. So go ahead and whine and cry, it doesn't change the fact that there were penalties on both players on the play. It should have been a re-do of third and one.

Even if you think it was a bad call, are you really blaming that for the Lions losing? Dallas went for a fourth and one at the goal line, and they went for a fourth and six with six minutes left in the game. What did Jim Caldwell do on a fourth and one, in Dallas territory, immediately following the controversial play? He punted. Maybe Lions fans should take a look at that decision.

It wasn't the refs who shanked a 10-yard punt after that play. It wasn't the refs who failed to cover Jason Witten on a fourth and six. It wasn't the refs who shut down the Lions offense, allowing only six points after a 14-point outburst to start the game. We could go on and on. So if your point is that a call that should have been offsetting penalties was the thing that made the Lions lose, well, I guess you just weren't watching the game.