Referee Explains Pass Interference Decision

Anthony Hitchens was called for a big pass interference on Sunday before the flag was picked up

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The Dallas Cowboys got their first playoff win in five years on Sunday, when they defeated the Detroit Lions 24-20 in comeback fashion. But the big win didn’t come without a bit of controversy.

Midway through the fourth quarter, with Dallas trailing 20-17, rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens was flagged for pass interference while covering Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew. It was 3rd and 1 at that point, and obviously, the penalty would’ve led to a crucial first down for Detroit.

Instead, though, the officials picked up the flag and the Lions punted. The Cowboys took that punt and scored the eventual game-winner.

Referee Pete Morelli explained the decision to pick up the flag on Sunday night, saying the correct call was not interference, but face guarding--which is illegal in the NCAA, but not in the NFL.

"The back judge threw his flag for defensive pass interference," Morelli said, per ESPN. "We got other information from another official from a different angle that thought the contact was minimal and didn't warrant pass interference. He thought it was face guarding."

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