As a direct response to the Dallas Cowboys’ 20-19 victory over the Detroit Lions last weekend, the NFL emphasized to its teams that players are responsible for verifying that they have accurately reported as eligible receivers.
Players donning the numbers 50-79 or 90-99 are required to report to the referee to qualify for a pass. Taylor Decker, who wears the No. 68 jersey for the Lions, approached referee Brad Allen to indicate his eligibility for the play at hand.
“In the video, NFL senior vice president Walt Anderson stated, “It is the player’s responsibility to ensure that a change in status is communicated to the referee through a physical signal, with his hands moving up and down in front of his chest, and to report to the referee his intention to report as an eligible receiver.”
Conversely, Allen was also approached by tackles Dan Skipper and Penei Sewell of the Lions, to create confusion among the Cowboys regarding the ultimate eligibility of the receiver. It appeared that Allen failed to recognize Decker and instead proclaimed Skipper to be eligible. Decker was subsequently ruled ineligible and convicted of unlawful contact when, with 23 seconds remaining in the game, he intercepted a potential game-winning two-point conversion.
On the same play that Skipper lined up at right tackle alongside tight end Sam LaPorta as an eligible player, the Lions also committed an illegal formation infraction.
Saturday evening, Skipper stated that he had not formally declared his eligibility. The video makes no mention of the referee’s responsibility to determine which participant is eligible.
Allen is anticipated to be penalized for the play, and his staff will not receive a postseason assignment, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Its season-ending contest of 2023 will take place on Saturday during the ESPN broadcast of the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens.