An overturned two-point conversion cost the Detroit Lions a victory on Saturday night against the Dallas Cowboys. But now NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has the power to overturn the outcome.
The NFL rulebook under Rule 17, Section 2 gives the commissioner the authority to “take appropriate disciplinary/corrective measures” in cases like Saturday night’s controversial illegal touching penalty that reversed the Lions’ successful two-point conversion pass to tackle Taylor Decker in their eventual 20-19 loss to Dallas.
If a commissioner-led investigation into official Brad Allen’s call reveals it was “extraordinarily unfair or outside the accepted tactics” and has “a major effect on the result of the game,” Roger Goodell can take action that includes “the reversal of a game’s result or the rescheduling of a game, either from the beginning or from the point at which the extraordinary act occurred.”
The penalty occurred after the Lions drove 75 yards in nine plays and scored on Jared Goff’s 11-yard TD pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown with 23 seconds left to cut the Cowboys’ lead to 20-19.
Instead of kicking an extra point to potentially force an overtime period, Lions head coach Dan Campbell opted to go for a two-point conversion.
On the controversial play, tackle Taylor Decker caught Goff’s pass in the back of the end zone, yet Allen called an illegal touching penalty because he said Decker didn’t check in as an eligible receiver, despite the Lions’ claims to the contrary.
Video shows Taylor Decker talking to official Brad Allen
Video evidence shows Decker and tackles Penei Sewell and Dan Skipper approaching Allen to talk to him before the play. After the game, Allen claimed Skipper reported as an eligible receiver. Skipper lined up next to Sewell on the right side of the line, with Decker on the left.
After Allen overturned Decker’s conversion, Campbell protested vehemently on the field, to no avail, and then proceeded to go for two once again. On the next play, Goff’s pass to St. Brown failed, but an offsides call on Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons gave the Lions a third opportunity, which also failed when Goff’s pass to tight end James Mitchell fell incomplete.
After the game, Campbell said he explained the play to the officials before the game “to a tee.”
There’s also video showing Campbell yelling “I told you” at Allen after the penalty was called.
Only Roger Goodell can initiate investigation
According to the NFL rulebook, the commissioner’s decision to investigate the call would come as a result of his own initiative, not based on any protests from the Lions.
It remains to be seen what Roger Goodell will do, but there appears to be a compelling enough case — based on the video evidence — for the commissioner to take action.
For now, though, the loss dropped the NFC North champion Lions from the No. 2 seed to No. 3 in the NFC, crippling their chances of overcoming the San Francisco 49ers as the top seed.