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Lions Cursed Twice Over


Officials in the Detroit-Minnesota game made two questionable calls that helped the Vikings escape with a 12-10 victory and keep the Lions winless.

The first was a pass interference call with 2 minutes 22 seconds to go that help set up Ryan Longwell's winning 26-yard field goal. The other came earlier in the fourth quarter when after a long Detroit completion, officials ruled wide receiver Calvin Johnson had fumbled when it appeared his knee was down before the ball came loose.

Let's start with the first and more pivotal call. With Detroit leading 10-9, Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte attempted a pass to Aundrae Allison that fell incomplete. Field judge Mike Weir, however, called pass interference on cornerback Leigh Bodden even though replays showed minimal contact.

The 42-yard penalty put the ball at the Detriot 26, and Longwell kicked the winner five plays later.

"I hope we get an apology, but that's not going to get us a win," Bodden told reporters.

The Lions' frustration on that play was clear, and the call came not that long after the controversial ruling against Johnson. On that play, quarterback Dan Orlovsky completed a 32-yard pass to Johnson, who got hit by Darren Sharper and Ben Leber. The ball came out, and Leber picked it up, prompting Lions Coach Rod Marinelli to challenge.

Replays appeared to show Johnson was down before the ball dislodged, but referee Tony Corrente upheld the call on the field.

"The question is was the ball coming out, or was he firmly in control of the ball?" Corrente said. "It's impossible to tell. It's not indisputable that his knee was on the ground with control of the ball; therefore, I have to go with the call."

That explanation was of little consquence to the Lions, who fell to 0-5.

"You do feel helpless," Bodden said of the calls. "You just ask yourself why, or what were they thinking?"

Rarely are there two clearly incorrect calls in one game, but for the Lions, their bad luck is indicative of a team that has not won since December and suffered through gross mismanagement leading to the dismissal of former general manager Matt Millen.

The calls also fueled talk of a Lions curse. Apparently when Hall of Fame quarterback Bobby Layne learned he was going to be traded from Detroit to Pittsburgh, he said the Lions would not win again for 50 years.

"I used to not be a believer in curses, but I'm a firm believer now," Williams told the Detroit News. "Bobby Layne, right? I didn't know about it until I came here, but I'm learning, man. As the years go by, you see things happen with this football team that you just don't see nowhere else."

By Gene Wang  |  October 13, 2008; 9:18 AM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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What do you expect? Their boss(Roger the dodger)gave them a pep talk last week i.e.: Blow as many calls as you want; I will punish severely anyone who dares question you in public; Your "integrity" is more important than getting the call right. Instant replay was meant to correct missed calls but more times than not the reviewer finds reasons not to change his call even if it is clear in replays that he was wrong.(fox in the hen house justice)I still do not understand why the officials do not have to stand up to public responsiblity as do the players, coaches,owners for their actions(fines, firing, etc).Obviously the democratic process of fair justice to all is not a part of the NFL LANDSCAPE.

Posted by: mikee1940 | October 14, 2008 12:42 PM

This is a league about marketing first and foremost. The Lions are already having a tough season and are not a marquee team. Is there anybody who seriously thinks the league is going to give them a fair shot when playing a team whose owner is begging for a new stadium?

Where's Ben Dreith when you need him?

Posted by: Dave | October 14, 2008 3:32 PM

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