FRISCO, Texas – The last time the Detroit Lions came to AT&T Stadium the Cowboys left with a wild-card playoff victory. But the 24-20 win didn't come without a little controversy.
With the Lions trying to protect a 20-17 lead in the fourth quarter, Detroit quarterback Stafford threw a third down pass to Brandon Pettigrew with Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens trailing him in coverage. The pass was incomplete, but a flag was thrown for pass interference on Hitchens. Moments later the referees picked up the flag.
The Lions were forced to punt and the Cowboys scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive for what would become the final score.
Hitchens remembers the play well.
"We were just in man-to-man coverage," he said. "[Pettigrew] actually wasn't my guy. He was on the free, and I'd seen him at the last second there and tried to go pick him up…Once I got up there wasn't a flag. Then there was a delay and they threw the flag, and they talked about it and picked it up. So there's that."
These days, Hitchens maintains the officials ultimately decided he didn't commit pass interference.
"They didn't throw a flag so it's not pass interference," Hitchens said before correcting himself. "If they threw the flag—or kept the flag, I should say—it would have been pass interference."
The call did not go in the Lions' favor, but the Cowboys advanced to play the Green Bay Packers where they would become victims of another controversial call—the infamous "Dez Catch" that was ruled incomplete just short of the end zone.