In what can only be described as one of the most ridiculous rules in the book, the Houston Texans benefitted from a gift touchdown on Sunday and eventually defeated the Detroit Lions in overtime, 34-31.
Running back Justin Forsett was clearly knocked down after an 8-yard gain, but did not hear a whistle. To his credited, he got up and finished off an 81-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
The problem was that replays showed Forsett's knee and elbow both hitting the ground. Lions coach Jim Schwartz immediately tossed the challenge flag, which has always been a coach's first reflex when such a call is made. The problem is that under the rule change in which all scores are automatically reviewed, any coach throwing the challenge flag on such a play actually accomplishes the opposite effect.
He draws a 15-yard penalty and the opportunity to review the play is negated, making the terrible call unreviewable and now on the scoreboard. Schwartz could be seen taking responsibility for his gaffe, but the reality is he shouldn't have to.
Coaches in the past have thrown challenge flags all the time only to be told the play isn't reviewable. Why is this so different?
What that TD by Forsett did was essentially end the Lions' season. Houston tied the game late in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime, where the Texans eventually won it. At 4-7, Detroit is done. At 5-6, the Lions would have at least still had a faint playoff pulse.
Yes, Schwartz erred in throwing the challenge flag, but the rule itself is ridiculous, because when applied it cost the Lions the game and their season with five games still left.
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Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com