The Detroit Lions fans are having a season for the ages. And going into Week 17 the Lions, with the NFC North division crown in hand, were assured of placing no worse than a #3 seed in the playoffs. A win would keep the team's hope alive for a #1 seed and a bye on Wild Card Weekend. So there was certainly something to play for Saturday night in Dallas.

The parallel story of the season, as it has been in the last several seasons, is dissatisfaction with officiating. Often missed and botched calls are the first and most vocal way fans will justify a loss by their team.

The two stories of the Lions dream season and questionable officiating hit a collision course in the final seconds of the game. The Lions, after a miracle drive culminated in a touchdown, were down by one. Always the gambler (more on that later), head coach Dan Campbell immediately decided to go for a 2-point conversion and the win rather than the point-after kick and head to a likely overtime.

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys
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If you haven't seen 'The Play' here it is with the Detroit Lions radio announcers laid over the telecast which makes it even more electrifying - then heartbreaking:

Want a great explaination of what happened or should have or didn't - check out this from the best football officiating group on Facebook:


The Aftermath of the Detroit Lions 'Failed to Report' Penalty

Following the penalty with an attempt now from the 7-yard-line the Lions again go for two rather than the kick.

That call saw a Dallas penalty called - an offsides foul. It wasn't a 'make up call' as the player was clearly across the line of scrimmage.

On a third 2-point try, this time back at the 2 yard line the Lions failed to convert effectively ending the game after a missed onside kick attempt.

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys
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Much of NFL fandom on social media were quick to point out that there's a time and a place to gamble and there's a time to take the points. Perhaps the Lions should have done just that in this case and play for overtime.

We'll never know.

Understanding NFL Rule 17 - Can it Be Used in the Lions-Cowboys Game?

NFL's rule 17 is in one of the dustier parts of the league's rulebook. The rule covers Unfair Acts - generally actions by teams that flagrantly and unfairly make the game uneven.

A classic example would be the 'Snowplow Game' from the early 80s when, in a blizzard in New England, the grounds crew cleared a path for the Patriots kicker to make a winning field goal in what ended up being a 0-3 game.

In that case it was the actions of one team that was considered the Unfair Act. Though the Dolphins challenged under Rule 17 the commissioner at the time refused to overturn a result.

That's the question today's comish, Rodger Godell, was facing - or more than likely not even considering - despite Lions fans scrambling to the NFL Rulebook to see what, if any, relief is available.

Specifically, it's Rule 17, Section 2, Article 1 that gives the commissioner seemingly unlimited discretion to act on the outcome of any game.

Has the NFL Ever Invoked Rule 17 to Overturn a Game Result?

No, the NFL has never overturned a game decided on the field. The issue does come up periodically when odd twists and turns develop during a game.

Remember 2019 (it's pre-pandemic so you probably don't), the most discussed play of that NFL season came in the NFC Championship when, at a pivotal moment in the Rams/Saints game, a pass interference no-call changed the likely outcome of the game and a trip to the Super Bowl.

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So it's almost a certainty the NFL will not act on the Saturday Night Shocker. Rational fans without a rooting interest will say the Lions had other chances - when they could have taken an easy three points in the first half but elected to go for it and failed on a 4th Down. Or they could have actually made either of the two succeeding 2-point conversion attempts. Or they could have gone for the single point after and played for overtime - after all, other than some explosive CeeDee Lamb plays, the Lions defense played well against a Cowboys team that had averaged 40 at home coming into the game.

Lions fans, though you're dejected, know that you will be slotted no worse than 3rd seed in the upcoming playoffs. That's where the focus should be - no double the Lions coaching staff is looking there.

MORE: 10 Best Detroit Lions Top 10 Draft Picks Of All Time

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