Good, Bad and Ugly: Blame The Officials

Matthew Stafford (Andrew Weber, USPW)

Of the nine Thanksgiving losses dating back to 2004, this may be the most gut-wrenching for the Detroit Lions. Lions' insider Mike Mady provides the good, bad and ugly from Thursday's loss to the Houston Texans, with the latter saved for the most obvious: horrendous officiating.

The Detroit Lions lost their ninth consecutive Thanksgiving Day game on Thursday, falling 34-31 to the Houston Texans in overtime.

Of the nine losses dating back to 2004, this may be the most gut-wrenching. The score alone can indicate that, as this was the only one of the nine losses where the Lions were within a score of their competitor when the game was over.

This was also the Lions first overtime loss on Thanksgiving since 1980.

Here is a deeper look with the Good, Bad and Ugly.

The Good – The Team's Fight

This was a game where the Lions faced adversity in spades. The root cause of the adversity was commonly their mistakes but the collective response was a testament to the team's resilience.

Say what you will about the mistakes made by individuals but do not ignore this group's fortitude.

When a blown call by the officials, coupled with a mistake by head coach Jim Schwartz, allowed Houston to tie the game, the Lions didn't pack it in. They took the lead once again and put themselves in position to win several other times.

When tight end Brandon Pettigrew dropped consecutive passes late in the fourth quarter with the score tied, the Lions faced third and 10. Despite the difficult circumstances, the team converted for a first down and gained necessary yardage to pin the Texans on the two-yard line after a punt.

In overtime, when Pettigrew was stripped of the ball after attempting to push for extra yardage, the defense was faced with a difficult situation. The Texans drove the ball as far as the 27-yard line but the defense held and pushed the ball back to the 33. The Texans missed their field goal attempt.

All of the above still culminated in a loss but the team showed there is no quit in them. A loss is a loss – and this is a heartbreaking one – but the team has come a long way from being Thanksgiving day patsies.

The Lions eight Turkey Day losses prior to this one came at an average point deficient of 21.5.

The Bad – Missed Opportunities

Despite the team's resilience, it's impossible to ignore the blunders that manufactured the adversity in the first place.

Schwartz should not have thrown a challenge flag when he is aware of the rule against it. Like the rule or not, he does know better and allowed himself to become taken adrift by the moment. That was a huge turning point in the game and, sadly enough, the error prevented the right call from happening.

The Pettigrew fumble was another situation where the team had a preventable error contribute to a loss. If Pettigrew can secure the ball and go down, the Lions are looking at a third and three on the outer edge of field goal range. Instead, the Texans are allowed to take over with solid field position and drive the ball.

The Lions missed a field goal in overtime that would have won the game as well as punted three times in Houston territory with two of those punts occurring after a sack had knocked the team out of field goal range.

There was ample opportunity to win this game for the Lions and their own mistakes resulted in the loss.

The Ugly – Justin Forsett's 81-Yard Touchdown

On this play, Forsett took the hand-off, ran through the line of scrimmage and was met head on by safety Louis Delmas. He momentarily touched the ground and the players around him stopped. However, no whistle blew and he ran the rest of the way – about another 75 yards – to the end zone.

This was an atrocious call by the officials.

Perhaps it's understandable that a team of referees can miss a player's forearm, elbow and knee all touching the ground but it is inexcusable for them to prevent the game's designed mechanisms of integrity from doing their part.

The officials could simply have told Schwartz he cannot challenge and pick up the flag. It is not only right for the game but it is in their best interest, as surely they would not want the game to be blemished by their own monstrous mistake.

The call was wrong but what was worse was the official's inability to use replay to get it right.

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