First off, I’m not a fan of either team. I was rooting for both of them to lose.
When the flag first came out, I immediately thought it was a bad call. Hitchens didn’t prevent Pettigrew from making a play on the ball, and Pettigrew was not impeded from coming back to the ball as I’ve heard some say. He was still backpeddling, and was physically incapable of coming back to the ball. He was also fully capable of making the catch had the ball not hit Hitchens in the back.
The NFL rulebook states:
(a) Contact by a defender who is not playing the ball and such contact restricts the receiver’s opportunity to make the catch.
I don’t see how the incidental contact by Hitchens restricted Pettigrew’s opportunity to make the catch in any way. Others disagree. It was also a huge mistake for the zebras to announce the penalty so soon when the line judge was debating the call.
Hitchens did grab Pettigrew’s jersey off the line, and yes that can be called as defensive holding. It’s also extremely common for that to not get called unless the receiver’s route is noticeably altered. So it isn’t out of the norm for there to be a no call there.
Pettigrew also shoved Hitchens harder than Hitchens’ minuscule shoulder tap throughout the play.
However, the thing I’m most curious about not being debated is Pettigrew’s blatant foul by grabbing and yanking on Hitchens’ facemask. Why is no one talking about that? I know I’m not the only person to see it.
Pettigrew held onto Hitchens’ facemask for 2+ seconds when the ball was in the air. Obviously, that’s a penalty on the Lions that wasn’t called either.
And 2 seconds later …
If you are in the ‘make the call’ camp, then fouls should have offset each other, and repeat the down. If you are like me and are in the ‘let them play the game’ camp, then you like the no call.