The Detroit Lions lost to the Atlanta Falcons 30-26 on Sunday in heartbreaking fashion, with the ending so crazy it was hard to believe it happened.
Matthew Stafford had marched the Lions down the field in a two-minute drill without any timeouts. However, on third-and-goal, Stafford hit Tate on a slant that was initially ruled a touchdown with eight seconds left. After review, the play was overturned and Tate was marked just short of the goal line.
That should give the Lions time to run at least one more play to win the game, right? Not quite.
Due to a rule that causes a 10-second runoff when a clock is stopped by officials and then restarted, the game technically ended with eight seconds left to play.
The Falcons have won a game over the Lions by the scrape of Brian Poole's finger nail. #RiseUp pic.twitter.com/h9oyqhCtrl— Wes Blankenship (@Wes_nship) September 24, 2017
In theory, the Lions could have lined up for a fourth down play as time expired, but the initial call of a touchdown is actually what disallowed that possibility.
Lions literally lose because the refs made the wrong call by giving them a winning touchdown.— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) September 24, 2017
What a sport.
The rule exists because the rules committee doesn't think that reviews should act as an extended timeout for a team.
Matthew Stafford led the Lions to eight fourth-quarter comebacks in 2016, the best in the league. However, it wasn't meant to be on Sunday.
The Lions are the absolute kings of finding unique ways to lose games with rules that aren't actually their fault. From the infamous "Calvin Johnson Rule" to the pass interference that wasn't meant to be against the Cowboys in the playoffs to the play against the Texans on Thanksgiving that wasn't reviewable because Jim Schwartz tried to challenge it, it just wouldn't be a Lions season without losing at least one game in inexplicable fashion.
The Falcons will take their 3-0 record back home to play Buffalo. The Lions are now 2-1 and will try to bounce back next week against the Vikings in their first divisional matchup. The only question is what strange, obscure rule will cost the Lions a game next time around.