Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys turn the page on reversed interference call

Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens was not called for pass interference against Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew.
Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens was not called for pass interference against Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew. TNS

They are still debating it on ESPN. It filled the script on sports radio. It was the talk at the water cooler.

Did linebacker Anthony Hitchens commit a foul? Or didn’t he?

That, of course, was the first question Jason Garrett was asked during his Monday afternoon news conference.

“I want to be really respectful about this answer, and I’ll get to what my answer is,” Garrett said. “But 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. You try to play and coach the game to the best of our ability.

“There’s a lot of great things that happened in that ballgame yesterday, and I think a lot of people are talking about the wrong things. You talk about what happened during the game and the positive things that happened for our football team, how good a football team they are and the battle that we went through and the challenge that we went through to have to win that game.”

The Cowboys obviously have moved on. It’ll take awhile for everyone else to stop discussing the vanishing flag.

Dean Blandino, the NFL’s head of officials, said Monday that Hitchens should have been penalized for defensive holding. Hitchens grabbed tight end Brandon Pettigrew’s jersey on a third-and-1 play in the fourth quarter.

The back judge initially called a foul for defensive pass interference, which Blandino said on NBC Sports Radio’s Pro Football Talk Live was a “judgment call that could have gone either way.” Referee Pete Morelli initially announced the penalty against Hitchens, and the ball was marked at the spot of the foul.

But the 21-yard penalty soon was overturned with little explanation from Morelli. A defensive holding penalty is only 5 yards, but it would have given the Lions an automatic first down at the Dallas 41.

The Lions ended up punting, and the Cowboys drove for the winning touchdown in a 24-20 victory that sends them to Green Bay.

“These guys are pros and great at what they do,” Garrett said of the officials. “We have a really healthy respect for them, but that’s my only frustration with it. The guy who is closest, I believe more times than not, should call the play.

“They don’t ask the first-base umpire to call balls and strikes. He calls the plays at first, right? He rarely steps in and says, ‘I think that thing painted the black over here.’ He doesn’t have a great view of it. The guy behind the plate does. That’s always been my gripe about situations like this.”

The Cowboys have moved on. They’re already talking about the Packers. They’ll leave the Monday morning officiating to everyone else.

“We’re going to get ready for the next challenge,” Garrett said. “We recognize what that challenge is going up to Green Bay. It’s a great football team, plays really well at their place.”

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @NFLCharean

“There’s a lot of great things that happened in that ball game yesterday, and I think a lot of people are talking about the wrong things.”

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett

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

Lions coach Jim Caldwell

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