Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola, infuriated by the New England Patriots’ decision to go for a touchdown when they were up 18 points and could have run out the clock, lunged for Patriots’ defensive tackle Zach Moore’s knees on the last play of the game. Raiola freely admitted attempting the cut-block, which could have wrecked Moore’s career, saying:
I cut him. We took a knee, so I cut the nose. They went for six. They went for a touchdown at 2 minutes. They could have took three knees and the game could have been over. It’s football. He wants to keep playing football, let’s play football. Not a big deal. It’s football.
The Patriots led 27-9 when the game resumed after the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter. Readying for a field goal on fourth down, they reconsidered after Lions defensive tackle C.J. Mosley helmeted long-snapper Danny Aiken, giving the Patriots a first down on the 1-yard-line. Despite the fact that the Lions had no timeouts, and the Patriots could have run out the clock, New England ran reacquired LeGarrette Blount for a touchdown.
When the Lions got the ball back, they ran six ineffectual plays, then prepared for quarterback Matthew Stafford to kneel on the ball. After snapping the ball, Raiola attempted to cut Moore. There was no penalty assessed.
“Sure there was a lot of frustration there with Raiola. He’s never beaten us. Tough day for him.” – Belichick with subtle tweak of Lions C
— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) November 24, 2014
Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork found out about the play after the game, and commented,
I just heard what happened, but that was stupid. I didn’t see it, but from what I heard … You’re taking a knee. They’d get mad if we were just to blow up one of their players, so I mean, it’s just uncalled for. But at the same time, you always have to protect yourself, so you always have to play with your neck on a swivel and being alert for 60 minutes, and it came down to it today on a bonehead play like that. But luckily no one got hurt and we can move on.
Raiola already had a reputation as a jackass; in early October, on the sidelines warming up before the Lions-Packers game in Green Bay, he verbally assaulted members of the University of Wisconsin marching band. As Tom Melton reported on his NFL draft blog:
According to a Wisconsin tuba player, Raiola and his teammates were engaged in their pregame warm-ups on the field near the goal line when he turned around and called him and the other tubas “Fat mother f**kers” and told them that “they sucked.” According to that tuba player no one in the band had done anything to provoke him, and no other band members I spoke with witnessed anything that could have provoked Raiola. The tuba player I spoke with made sure to point out that the rest of the band hadn’t even been on the field yet, and none of the tuba players said anything to him, so no one in the band could have provoked Raiola prior to him making those comments.
As the band was preparing to play the National Anthem, another band member told me Raiola was yelling at him, saying such things such as “Hey fat guy, you want a hot dog?” When this band member did not acknowledge him, he continued to yell at other band members within earshot of him until the band began to play. A third band member told me Raiola was calling a band member near him a “fat fu**” prior to their pregame performance as well.
A post on Facebook by as member of the band, Zach York, confirmed Melton’s report. York wrote:
Dominic Raiola is literally the worst person I have ever had the fortune to encounter. After marching down the field awaiting the national anthem, He went off on a verbal tirade, among other things, questioning my sexuality (as a band member) and then continued on to bring my sister and my recently deceased mother into the conversation. After I refused to give him the satisfaction of turning to look at him, he switched targets to a trombone ranting at him calling him overweight and saying he can’t play a real sport. After our halftime show, the same fine gentleman called a female member of the band (a profanity).
The Lions later issued a statement responding to Raiola’s behavior in Green Bay that read, “We are aware of the reports involving Dominic Raiola and the University of Wisconsin Marching Band. Those reports are extremely inconsistent with the standard of behavior we expect from our players and from every member of our organization. We currently are gathering more information and will respond further when appropriate.
The day after the game, when asked what disciplinary actions would be taken against Raiola, Lions coach Jim Schwartz responded, “We’ll certainly address it, for sure.”