Detroit Lions plagued by history of controversial calls

Does the feeling that the Detroit Lions got robbed by officiating Monday night feel familiar? Well it should, it's nothing new.

In case you missed it, the Lions lost 23-22 in heartbreaking fashion to the Green Back Packers at Lambeau Field on Monday night. Detroit fans took to social media to call out what many say was... let's just say, unfair officiating.

From two hands to the face calls on defensive end Trey Flowers to a non-call for pass interference on wideout Marvin Jones Jr., many say poor officiating cost Detroit the game, despite some offensive struggles.

But this isn't the first time the Lions fandom has had issues with the refs. Let's take a walk down memory lane.

1. The Calvin Johnson Rule - Sept. 12, 2010

Who could forget when legendary Lions receiver Calvin Johnson caught what could have been a game-winning touchdown pass against the Chicago Bears. The score is 19-14 Bears, and Matthew Stafford slings it down the right to Megatron in the endzone with less than 30 seconds on the clock. 

But what's that? It's ruled an incomplete pass and it's up for review. Johnson jumps up to catch the pass, brings the ball down, right foot down, left foot down, both his behind and knee touch the turf, but referees determine he loses control of the ball as he stands up to celebrate. Johnson, apparently, did not complete the process of the catch. Behold, the Calvin Johnson Rule was born. 

Two plays later, the Lions cannot convert at fourth and 10. Detroit would go on to lose 19-14.

In 2018, the league changed the rule - a catch is a completed if the receiver has: control of the ball, both feet or another part of their body down on the ground, and either making or having the ability to make a football move, like tucking the ball away or reaching for the goal line. 

2. Playoff pass interference call reversed - Jan. 4, 2015

The Lions had actually made it to the playoffs and were facing the Dallas Cowboys. Detroit was up 20-17 and with 8:25 left to go, Cowboy linebacker Anthony Hitchens was at first called for pass interference on tight end Brandon Pettigrew.

Detroit would've been given a first down from the penalty, but chaos ensued. Cowboys players argued with the refs, the head linesman conferred with the back judge who threw the flag and the call was overturned. Officials determined contact was minimal and Hitchens was simply face-guarding.

The Lions would go on to punt it away and eventually lose 24-20.

It took another team losing in the playoffs on a blatant pass interference no-call - the New Orleans Saints last year in the NFC Championship game - before the NFL finally made it possible for coaches to challenge pass interference.

3. 10-second runoff - Sept. 24, 2017

Trailing the Atlanta Falcons 30-26 with 8 seconds left in the game, receiver Golden Tate appears to catch a go-ahead touchdown pass. But upon replay, officials ruled that he was down inside the 1-yard line -- Tate didn't make it to the end zone. 

Facing a running clock situation without any timeouts, by NFL rules, there was a 10-second runoff. The rule is meant to stop teams from taking advantage of penalties. 

If the call had been correct, the clock would've kept running. But it was incorrectly ruled a touchdown, so during the scoring play review, the Lions essentially get a free timeout. So the 10-second runoff rule is meant to act as the amount of time it would have taken Detroit to get in position and run another play.

That 10-second runoff ran out the 8 seconds left on the clock. The argument is that a play could be run under 10 seconds. The NFL talked about changing this rule in 2018, and the Lions suggested changing it to seven seconds, but they never submitted an official proposal. You might think seven seconds isn't enough time to run a play but the Lions have done it before:

And there are several others, but you get the point. The officiating Monday night drew criticism from Lions fans worldwide, including Barry Sanders:

And former Detroit Lion quarterback Dan Orlovsky, now an ESPN analyst:

Read more about that here.