Sports

Caldwell Calls for Improved Use of Technology in Officiating

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell watches his team before an NFL wildcard playoff football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell watches his team before an NFL wildcard playoff football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

NOAH TRISTER, AP Sports Writer

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The disputed call in the fourth quarter of Detroit’s playoff loss at Dallas was not subject to a replay review.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell wonders if it’s time to change that.

“I think without question it was probably not officiated correctly in my estimation,” Caldwell said Monday, a day after Detroit’s 24-20 loss. “Nevertheless, I do think in this day and age, with modern times where we have technology that can take out the human factor in certain key situations in big games, that we should use that technology to do so.”

With the Lions up 20-17 and in Dallas territory, referee Pete Morelli initially announced a pass interference penalty on Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens. Then officials reversed themselves, leaving Detroit facing fourth down.

The Lions punted, and Dallas drove for the winning touchdown.

“I’m angry about it, and trying to keep my composure here, but I’m probably angry for our team, and the fans,” Caldwell said. “That’s the thing that stirs your blood.”

Coaches aren’t allowed to signal for replay reviews of potential pass interference calls, but Caldwell indicated Monday he’d like to see the league allow more reviews if possible.

“For the sake of time, and those kinds of things in a game … you have to have some boundaries,” Caldwell said. “I do think that particularly in big games and down the stretch, and playoffs, and things of that nature, I’m not certain there should be a limit on when you can review.”

Caldwell said the league reached out to him after the game, although he did not say what was discussed.

Dean Blandino, the league’s director of officials, told The Associated Press on Monday that there have been proposals to expand the use of replay reviews for personal fouls. There also have been proposals to allow coaches to challenge any call.

“The history always has been ever since the first iteration of replay is that we were dealing with fact and not judgment,” he said. Subjective calls … that was something the competition committee felt should not be part of replay and that has been the guideline ever since.

“Recently there has been more conversation about adding some of those subjective calls to reviewable plays with the technology we have now. ”

On the play Sunday, Morelli said the head linesman believed there wasn’t enough contact for a penalty, so none was called even though the back judge had thrown a flag.

“I just think that we’re all human and we’re all affected by our surroundings, environment, big game, issues, noise, etc.,” Caldwell said. “It’s going to be hard for anybody to convince me otherwise, and I think in that particular case we should try to take as much of the human factor out as we possibly can.”

The Lions punted after the sequence, and the Cowboys drove to the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

“I want to be really respectful about this answer,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said Monday. “We’re talking about the wrong stuff. We’re talking about officiating after a game. I would like to think that I would say that when the call goes against us, and certainly want to say it when the call goes for us. There’s a lot of calls in a game that impact the game and we never really try to get caught up with those as coaches and players.”

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AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner and Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon contributed to this story.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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