Upon Further Review: Poor Call Dooms Lions

Call it sour grapes, a conspiracy theory, or a bitter excuse, but the Detroit Lions were hosed during Sunday's 17-13 loss at Tampa Bay.

After 59 minutes and 50 seconds of solid football by both the Lions (1-2) and Buccaneers (4-0), Lions' quarterback Joey Harrington -- after engineering an 83-yard drive that lasted the final five minutes of the 4th quarter -- lofted a game-winning pass to a sliding Marcus Pollard. The veteran tight end snared the ball, appearing to land in bounds with the ball secured.

The field judge, who had a clear view of the play, signaled that Detroit converted the touchdown. The Lions had taken a 19-17 lead, extra point pending, with less than 10 seconds to play in the 4th quarter.

However, the replay booth challenged the call. Per NFL rules, any replay with less than two minutes remaining must be initiated by the booth.

This is where the replay official 'dropped the ball', and unjustly shanghai'd Detroit's second win of the season.

The underlying function behind instant replay -- and thus its value -- is that it isn't intended to replace officiating, yet assist with questionable calls. That is why, according to the league's policy on instant replay, the film must present irrefutable evidence that conflicts with the original call to issue an overturn.

That never happened.

As Pollard was sliding out of the end zone, he had secured the pass with both hands -- establishing control -- prior his knee eventually clashing with the sideline. At no point on the game film -- we took a frame-by-frame look -- was there any semblance of evidence suggesting a possible conflict with the original call.

Below is a frame-by-frame look of the catch, compliments of the Kuklas Korner blog (Yahoo! Users, go to www.lionsfans.com to view images).

The overturn appeased the Tampa Bay home crowd, but also stalled Detroit's offensive momentum -- which had driven almost 90-yards in five minutes to set up the winning score.

The grudge match that witnessed both teams perform well enough to win, a hard-fought battle on the gridiron that wasn't decided until the final seconds, ended in disappointment when an aging umpire with the status of "the clock guy", who sat through most of the contest in his La-Z boy, determined the victor.

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