The Browns lost the game to the Lions and in large part, they dug their own hole. They simply could not make enough plays on offense to win. Nevertheless, the refs left a lot to be desired and part of the problem was on Fox for the broadcast and their lack of cameras. The Browns should not have put themselves in position to need the calls of referees to help them win, but two of the biggest plays in the game, due to the Browns ineffectiveness, were a play made by Greg Little by the sideline that was reviewed and not overturned, likely due to lack of evidence and then an unbelievably bad personal foul penalty on Quentin Groves a few minutes later.
The disputed catch by Greg Little on second down-and-25 had one camera angle. It was across the field and it was impossible to make a clear decision from it. Little may have caught the ball and gotten both feet in or he may have gotten his first heel down out of bounds before the second foot landed. Fans of the Browns swear he was in while Lions fans will say he was out, but the fact there was no angle from the other side that could actually see where his feet landed was unbelievable in this day and age when there is seemingly an unending amount of angles and replays. The fact of the matter was the refs had to stick with the incomplete call on the field because no one could be sure where his feet landed on that play. Had he caught it, it would have been a first down. Instead, the refs had to shrug and move on with the game and the Browns were faced with third down-and-25. If Fox cannot bring enough cameras to cover the game properly, there are other networks out there that can do the job.
The penalty against Groves, on the other hand, was embarrassing. For people who claim that defense has been outlawed in the NFL, this was a great example. Right after Matthews Stafford threw a pass in a third down-and-3, Groves immediately put a hit on him where he wrapped up, put his head in his chest and had no chance to stop himself. The refs called the play roughing the passer and it seemed to be entirely based on the fact that Stafford went to the ground with a solid thud. Having a 260lb man on top of him will have that impact. Groves did exactly what the rules say he is supposed to do. He did not hit Stafford high or low. He put the hit right in the center of his body, did not lead with his helmet and just made the right play. He was punished for it and it basically ended the game for the Browns right there. For a player like Groves, he is left to ask the question: “What was I supposed to do there?” Hopefully, the NFL gives him an answer in the form of an apology.
Maybe the Browns did not deserve to win the game, but the refs did not need to give it to them. There are a ton of rules aimed to protect the quarterback in this game. Even Fox’s announcing crew had trouble figuring it out and basically stammered their way through the explanation. It was just an awful call.
There were other questionable calls in the game, but these two in particular had a huge impact and really hurt the Browns in big spots. Certainly, the Browns needed to make more plays and avoid the situations entirely, but those were two huge calls in the fourth quarter of the game. One, they were simply not equipped to make and the other was just a cowardly call by the officials. These were not the only questionable calls made in the game, but they were the two biggest ones that were botched.