Rogers and Niyo break down Detroit’s 10th loss of the season, another dismal offensive effort against Minnesota.
Justin Rogers, The Detroit News

Detroit — It’s something you might expect to see the New England Patriots attempt, taking advantage of ambiguity in the rule book. But the officials weren’t buying what the Detroit Lions were selling during Sunday’s 27-9 loss to the Vikings.

Early in the second quarter, the Lions lined up for a 30-yard field goal they had little intention of kicking. Instead, the goal was to draw the Vikings offside on the fourth-and-3 play.

It started with holder Sam Martin’s hard count, raising his hand as if he was reaching for the impending snap. As he did eight of the nine blockers stood straight up from their two-point stances, which individually would be a legal reset for any player in a two-point stance.

More: Lions grades: Plenty of Fs to go around in loss to Vikings


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The tactic worked as one of the Vikings defensive linemen charged offside, but the officials consulted and ultimately ruled the Lions committed a false start.

Here’s the pertinent section of the NFL rule book: “Any quick abrupt movement by a single offensive player, or by several offensive players in unison, which simulates the start of the snap, is a false start.”

And that’s how the officials explained it to Patricia.

“They thought it was too abrupt,” he said. “We were trying to get one.”

Had the officials ruled an offside against the Vikings, the Lions would have had a first-and-goal from the 7. Instead, they settled for 35-yard field goal and a 6-0 lead.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers