OFFICIAL:Lions – cowboys match to be replay due to….

There shouldn’t be any confusion or deception regarding who is or who is not reporting as an eligible receiver in the NFL.

That was my big takeaway from the critical and controversial two-point play for the Detroit Lions in their loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night in Week 17.

As a former offensive lineman, I loved seeing Lions LT Taylor Decker appear to score the winning points. And believe me, I’m thrilled my former teammate Dan Campbell led the Lions to their first division title in 30 years. Their loyal fans deserve it.

Not only that, I love creativity. Trick plays are awesome. Exotic and unique formations are cool, in my book.

That said, as a guy who reported as an eligible receiver dozens of times, I don’t think it is a good idea or is healthy for football if there is confusion regarding who has or has not reported as eligible.

That’s different than a team such as the Lions lining up in a unique formation that saw three ineligible linemen to the right side of the center and only one ineligible player to the left of the center on that play. Defenses should have to adjust on the fly to the various formations offenses can throw at them. That’s half the fun of it.

It’s the subterfuge or deception regarding who does or does not report to the official that I think should be eliminated from the game.

The reality is the Lions sent three linemen to referee Brad Allen for a reason. Detroit was attempting to confuse the Cowboys as to which player would report as eligible and who wasn’t. 

Starters Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker walked up to Allen. At the same time, reserve Dan Skipper (No. 70), who had reported as eligible several times in the game, came sprinting onto the field toward Allen.

Depending on your perspective, that either confused Allen, or he made a mistake by assuming it was Skipper who was reporting as eligible yet again.

My contention: It should be clear and obvious who has reported and who hasn’t so the defense or Allen couldn’t be in that position. 

Having broached the subject on social media, it appears there are several responses, so let’s dive into them.

This is the final response I’ve seen, which is essentially the opposite of the one above. People have suggested Detroit wasn’t attempting to dupe Dallas because “the referee announces who is eligible to the entire stadium.”

In that case, why send three linemen in Allen’s direction at all? 

If you aren’t trying to be deceptive because eligible players get announced anyway, why take the risk that the eligible receiver could be misidentified by the referee?

Ultimately, it is extremely unfortunate the play didn’t count. It was a great design and connection from Jared Goff to Decker. To me, the issue is not the Lions as much as it is the reporting process moving forward.

There are already enough creative things offenses can do with formations, motions, unbalanced lines, tackle overs, etc. to create confusion for the defense. Trying to conceal who has reported as eligible or not should not be part of the equation.

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