NFL to Look at Challenge Rule Again After Thanksgiving Day Debacle
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By Danny Cox
The game between the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day ended up being one that was rather close and quite exciting. Sadly though, it isn’t being remembered for the great offensive play and big-time scores that happened from both teams in the contest.
What the game is being most remembered for is the events behind a touchdown that virtually turned the entire tide of the game. With that being said, the NFL has decided to pay another visit to the replay rule that made the whole issue even that much bigger of a deal.
Houston’s Justin Forsett ran for a short gain during the contest and appeared to be taken down by Detroit defenders. Forsett then got up and kept on running a full 81 yards to the end zone for an apparent touchdown.
Replays clearly showed that Forsett’s wrist, elbow, and knee all hit the ground, but the whistle never blew to end the play. Since all scoring plays are automatically reviewed, it was certain that this play would be called back and the touchdown taken off of the board.
Throwing a challenge flag on an automatically reviewed scoring play negates the review and is also accompanied by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty. Schwartz throwing out the flag wiped out the chance of having the play reviewed, and the touchdown stood.
“I overreacted,” Schwartz acknowledged, “and I cost us.”
While Schwartz is telling the truth, it may not cost another team in a similar situation. League’s vice president of football operations Ray Anderson said that the NFL’s Competition Committee is going to discuss the rule in the next few days. He also says that there is the possibility of it being changed.
Rule changes in the NFL don’t often come about during the middle of the season due to trying to keep everything equal throughout every week. For competition purposes though, Anderson said that it is possible this rule could be revised or totally rescinded for the rest of the season or the playoffs.
Dean Blandino, NFL’s director of instant replay, explained the rule in detail during a recent appearance on NFL Network. It has been in place since 2011.
“The rule was put in place really to prevent a team in a challenge situation from creating a delay,” Blandino said, according to NFL.com. “They’re thinking about challenging the play, they commit a foul, jump offside, false start, now they’ve given themselves more time to make that decision.
“So we tell our coaches, ‘Don’t throw the flag.’ Our officials should get to the sideline, explain to them that the play is not challengeable, and then the replay official is looking at it and he will stop the game and look at it if he deems that it needs to be stopped.”
Blandino’s explanation came due to another coach having an issue with the rule. About two weeks ago, Atlanta Falcons‘ coach Mike Smith was flagged for the exact same thing that Schwartz was.
In a game against the Arizona Cardinals, Smith threw his challenge flag on a Falcons fumble. The play was going to be subject to review no matter what, and therefore Smith’s flag caused it not to be reviewed and for him to be assessed the 15-yard penalty.
There were enough reasons to put the rule into place to begin with, but now it seems as if there are more and more reasons for it to be taken out or at least altered.
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.