Leading Off

Dallas debacle spurs conspiracy theories

Dallas outside linebacker Anthony Hitchens (59) is hit in the back by a pass from Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9), intended for Detroit Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew (87), during the fourth quarter of an NFL wildcard playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, in Arlington, Texas.
Dallas outside linebacker Anthony Hitchens (59) is hit in the back by a pass from Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9), intended for Detroit Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew (87), during the fourth quarter of an NFL wildcard playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. AP

It still stinks, doesn’t it?

Two days after the Dallas Cowboys were hit with a crucial defensive pass-interference call that suddenly and mysteriously became nothing more than an incomplete pass for the Detroit Lions, that smell wafting over Jerry Jones’ $1.2 billion football palace in Texas still reeks like the back of a cattle truck.

The last time we saw such a bad call in an NFL game was in 2012, when schoolteachers and retirees hired as replacement refs gave the Seattle Seahawks a last-second touchdown to beat Green Bay on “Monday Night Football” even though a Packers defender clearly intercepted the pass.

While Sunday’s call-turned-non-call may be nothing more than an embarrassing mistake for the NFL in a crucial moment during a playoff game, how can you blame Lions fans – or any non-Cowboys fan – for crying foul or alleging a fix to help Dallas advance to the divisional playoffs?

Unfortunately, officials can be wrong Sunday and the NFL can shrug its shoulders and apologize Monday – but the game’s outcome won’t change.

That’s what happened Monday when Dean Blandino, head of NFL officials, said the pass interference “could have been gone either way,” but defensive holding should have been called against Dallas.

Also, Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant ran onto the field after the initial flag without a helmet, which also could have resulted in a penalty.

But business is business, and sorry, Detroit, it’s better business for the NFL if the Cowboys are in the divisional playoffs against the Green Bay Packers.

But thanks, Detroit Lions, for the effort.

Conspiracy?

Who told the back judge who threw the flag to pick it up and give no explanation?

Who benefited from a Cowboys playoff win?

Who has the power to cover it up?

In one of the most controversial seasons in the NFL, what did Commissioner Roger Goodell know and when did he know it?

– Victor Contreras

vcontreras@sacbee.com


What to watch

College basketball, New Mexico at San Diego State, 8 p.m., CBSSN: Freshman Malik Pope from Laguna Creek High School has played well for the 11-4 Aztecs.

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