The Washington Post

Jim Schwartz’s botched challenge gives Texans a TD

Justin Forsett was down. Then he was up … and off on a touchdown run. (Paul Sancya / AP)

Maybe Detroit Lions Coach Jim Schwartz was just trying to take the attention away from his defensive lineman, Ndamukong Suh, and his controversial kick to the groin of Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub.

That has to be it because the alternative is that he is either unaware of the rules or let his emotions get the better of him. Judge for yourself what Schwartz was or was not thinking. Here’s the situation:

The Texans scored on a 81-yard run that would have been nullified on review because running back Justin Forsett’s elbow and knee clearly were down after an eight-yard gain. But because no one noticed, he got up and took off for the end zone. The play should have been reviewed, but wasn’t because Schwartz quickly — too quickly — threw his red challenge flag onto the field. Because by rule he can’t challenge the play, he was penalized — and the play was never reviewed because, once a coach throws a challenge flag on a play that would be automatically reviewed by the booth, the play is no longer reviewed.

(If you’re thinking that makes no sense … you’re right.)

And, to top it off, the team whose coach makes such an egregious error is hit with a 15-yard penalty. Afterward, defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham went a little berserk and Schwartz mouthed “That’s on me.”

Here’s the NFL’s official explanation:

The Replay Official cannot initiate a review of any ruling against a team that commits a foul that delays the next snap, such as illegally throwing the challenge flag.  For your reference, the same situation happened on a turnover last week in the Arizona-Atlanta game.

The NFL Rule Book (page 89) states:

Replay Official’s Request for Review. After all scoring plays, interceptions, fumbles and backward passes that are recovered by an opponent or go out of bounds through an opponent’s end zone, muffed scrimmage kicks recovered by the kicking team, after the two-minute warning of each halfand throughout any overtime period, any Replay Review will be initiated by a Replay Official from a Replay Booth comparable to the location of the coaches’ booth or Press Box. There is no limit to the number of Referee Reviews that may be initiated by the Replay Official. He must initiate a review before the next legal snap or kick and cannot initiate a review of any ruling against a team that commits a foul that delays the next snap. His ability to initiate a review will be unrelated to the number of timeouts that either team has remaining, and no timeout will be charged for any review initiated by the Replay Official.

So … a touchdown that shouldn’t have counted did — and the same thing happened in the Falcons’ game Sunday. Like the tuck rule, this is another one that makes your hair hurt and will probably get a review of its own in the offseason. 

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.


Suh’s kick to Schaub’s groin


After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.



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Cindy Boren · November 22, 2012