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Lions QB Jared Goff 'very confused' following penalty on decisive two-point play vs. Cowboys

The Lions seemingly drew up the perfect play to escape Dallas with a win over the Cowboys on Saturday night.

Then, the flag came in.

On a two-point attempt, down 20-19 with 27 seconds left, the Lions dialed up a play-action pass to offensive tackle Taylor Decker, who sneaked off the end of the line unnoticed to the backside of the end zone for an apparent go-ahead catch before the referees penalized him for illegal touching -- a call that would prove the doom of Detroit after two more failed attempts and an unsuccessful onside kick sealed the loss.

"We get down there, get the touchdown and get the two-point conversion and yeah, it sucks," Jared Goff told reporters, per the team transcript. "It's unfortunate man. I don't know if I've had this feeling before where you feel like you won but you didn't."

Following the call, head coach Dan Campbell and several Lions players appeared beside themselves over the call from the officials.

Despite video showing Decker approach referee Brad Allen prior to the play, he was not deemed to have reported as eligible, unlike his fellow lineman Dan Skipper, who then lined up at tackle to Decker's right.

"So, we had a situation where if you were going to have an ineligible number occupy an eligible position, you have to report that to the referee," Allen explained in a pool report with Dallas Morning News' Calvin Watkins following the game. "On this particular play, number 70, who had reported during the game a couple of times, reported to me as eligible. Then he lined up at the tackle position. So, actually, he didn't have to report at all. Number 68, who ended up going downfield and touching the pass, did not report. Therefore, he is an ineligible touching a pass that goes beyond the line, which makes it a foul. So, the issue is, number 70 did report, number 68 did not."

Allen went on to explain that there was also another penalty on the play due to Skipper reporting as eligible but being covered up on the line of scrimmage.

Campbell took to his postgame news conference livid over the loss and said part of the explanation provided to him was that two people can't report.

"I don't want to talk about it, alright?" Campbell added while taking a handful of questions over the play. "I explained everything pregame to a tee. OK? I did that. 70 reported, 68 didn't. We threw it to 68. That was the explanation."

Decker had his own view following the game in the locker room, per team transcript: "They didn't tell me anything after the play. I mean all I really want to say on it, just so I don't get myself into trouble, is, I mean, I did exactly what coach told me to do, and went to the ref, said, 'Report.' "

As for Goff, he admitted he was "very confused" over the explanation provided.

The wiped-out two-point conversion has overshadowed the rest of the game, an evenly matched nail-biter with big plays and both coaches taking even bigger swings in search of a win.

Campbell's crew, as it has been since the start of the season, was bold in every facet -- both before and after the controversial call.

Back in the second quarter, Detroit gambled with a fake punt and pass from its own 28-yard line with a four-point deficit. It resulted in a beauty of a sideline throw from linebacker Jalen Reeves-Mabin to cornerback Khalil Dorsey for 31 yards.

The rescued drive stalled again on the 4-yard line, though, where Campbell again elected to go for it on fourth down. The play failed, but the mindset never wavered.

In the drive preceding Decker's illegal touch, Detroit made a resilient march down the field on nine plays in 1:18 with no timeouts to bring the score to within one.

And even after the penalty moved the Lions back five yards, they again went for the win versus the tie, succeeding to pull Micah Parsons offsides for yet another chance at victory -- this time from the 3.

Only when Goff's pass to tight end James Mitchell on the third attempt fell incomplete did the Lions' signature moxie finally fail.

"We still had chances to do it there on the next two conversions," Goff said. "We had two more shots at it. We didn't get either of them. It's unfortunate it came down to what it did."

The loss, especially how it took place, will stick in the craw of the Lions.

But while it did eliminate any chance of capturing the NFC's No. 1 seed, the game still said much for Detroit's future, which involves hosting a playoff game in two weeks time as either the second or third seed.

Campbell has proven time and again he'll have his team ready for it.

He'll be prepared for a rematch with Dallas, as well, should the two teams meet further down the line.

"They played hard," Campbell said of the Cowboys. "We knew they would. They'd give us their best shot, and they play well at home. They did again, and we'll see them in a couple weeks. It'll be good."

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