Posted November 23, 2012

Justin Forsett ‘touchdown’ stands after Jim Schwartz’s botched challenge try

Detroit Lions, Houston Texans
Justin Forsett

His left elbow was down, but Justin Forsett’s TD run stood because of Lions coach Jim Schwartz’s incorrect challenge. (Paul Sancya/AP)

By Tom Mantzouranis

The crew of replacement refs responsible for the most controversial moment of the 2012 season — Golden Tate’s “game-winning” “touchdown catch” against the Packers — can now feel a little better about themselves.

In the third quarter of the Lions-Texans Thanksgiving game, Texans back Justin Forsett ran up the gut for eight yards before being tackled by Lions defenders.

)One problem, though: The refs didn’t see Forsett’s knee and elbow clearly hit the ground, and didn’t blow the play dead. Recognizing this, Forsett got up and kept running for an 81-yard touchdown ([si_launchNFLPopup video='c89f0f2373b9428385302fc8444b5cdc']watch the run[/si_launchNFLPopup]). But the play, as all scoring plays are, would be automatically reviewed and clearly reversed, right?

One problem, though: Jim Schwartz threw a challenge flag on the play. Due to a rule that could at best be described as ridiculous, and at worst mind-bogglingly non-sensical, any time a coach challenges a play that would be automatically reviewed, not only is the team flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, but the automatic review is negated.

The result? Forsett’s touchdown was allowed to stand, narrowing the Lions’ lead at the time to 24-21 and sending the Detroit crowd into a furious frenzy.

You can fault Schwartz for not knowing the rule (especially after last week, when Mike Smith made the same mistake and suffered the same fate in the Falcons-Cardinals game). Schwartz himself could be seen mouthing “That’s on me” in the call’s aftermath. (Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham directed his anger elsewhere.)

But you should fault the refs even more. This wasn’t one of those “sometimes you miss things when the game moves so fast” situations; an entire crew missed something that anyone with semi-functioning vision and a basic knowledge of football recognized immediately.

But, really, most of the blame lies with the NFL. A bad call should be reviewable, no matter what. For the league to punish a team despite the gross negligence of the league’s own employees, those charged with upholding the integrity of the game, is absurd. And all because Jim Schwartz had the gall to — gasp! — throw a flag? Can’t you just tell him to pick it up?

Obviously, that’s not possible. Instead, let’s stubbornly refuse to correct an obvious mistake, all in the name of some arcane edict. Because that’s where the NFL’s priority lies — enforcing its rules, whether they make sense or not, sometimes at the cost of legitimacy.

And, now, it’s Twitter’s turn:

23 comments
Richard V
Richard V

I am so tired of hearing how the Tate catch was called wrong. Multiple reviews confirmed the catch. And Tate clearly had BOTH hands on the ball. So a defender got shoved . So what . They never call PI on a hail Mary.

StevenKeys
StevenKeys

Great breakdown, Tom.  Could do without the Twitter shill, though.

IamWoodwose
IamWoodwose

I hate Detroit.  I hate the team, the coach, Matt Stafford, Dirty Suh and virtually every player who has ever played, every coach who has ever coached and every idiot fan who has ever rooted for this ridiculous excuse of a football team.  The only person ever associated with the Detroit Lions I can think of off the top of my head, who ever had any class or dignity was Barry Sanders, who walked away from the game 3 or 4 years early because he couldn't stand the stench that comes with being a Detroit Lion.  Even the city of Detroit, aka The Armpit of America, and the State of Michigan are both completely detestable.  

 

But no one, not convicted child molesters, evil dictators, insane mass murderers, or the vomit inducing Detroit Lions, deserves to get screwed like this.

 

That's an insane rule, NFL.  Get rid of it now.

Mike26
Mike26

The procedure was followed correctly according to the rule.  I hope, and believe, the rule will be revised so that the play will be reviewed regardless of the stupidity of the coach.  The penalty should absolutely stay in place.

James C
James C

I also have one other comment about the stupidity of the NFL's rules and guidelines for officials.

 

As was mentioned in the broadcast yesterday, the officials are instructed to let the play continue if they have any doubt as to the result of the play.

 

that's fine in college where every play is automatically reviewed. The problem is the NFL doesn't have automatic challenges.

 

Let's take the same play as the Detroit game, but move the play to the 2:10 mark of the 4th quarter with Detroit out of timeouts. Lets also change the score into him getting pushed out at the 5 yard line. That play would not be reviewable because Detroit would not be allowed to challenge that play (no timeouts remaining).

 

The simple fact is the NFL needs to go to a college like review system where the replays all come from the replay official and coaches are allowed only 1 challenge per game (only lose it if they are wrong). The #1 job of replay is getting the call right, and the current system misses that.

 

Also, one more thing about the replay. They need to get better camera angles. That punt hit the Houston player, but there was no angle that definately showed it hitting him. That should have been a muffed kick, recovered by Detroit, which could have completely changed that game as well. I don't fault the referee for ruling the call on the field stands, because given the camera angles, there really wasn't a way to overturn the call.

James C
James C

I have no problem with the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty if you throw a challenge flag on a play that must be reviewed from the replay official. My problem with the rule is that you now stop what replay is designed to do, make sure the call is correct. The rule is stupid because it double penalizes a team. You get the yardage penalty PLUS the play can't be reviewed. Give the 15 yard penalty on the play, but don't compund the mistake by the officials and allow blown calls to stand.

 

PeteSauve, as for your intpretation of the rule. You are incorrect on a couple things. The replay official must initiate the review, which means he looks at the play then decides if it warrants further review by the referee. The inititation of the review is when he buzzes down to the field asking the referee to review the play. He may have been looking at the play on replay, but had not yet initiated the review by buzzing down to the field, which is when the review is actually inititated.

 

The simple point is the entire "we can't review the play" rule is assinine and needs to be changed. The point of replay is to get the call correct, and in this case a stupid decision (3 points were down, the knee, the elbow, and the back of the runners hand carrying the ball) is allowed to stand.

 

PeteSauvé
PeteSauvé

Seems that either the Replay Official didn't do his job, or the NFL is misapplying their own rule......Rule 15, Section 9: "(The Replay Official) 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."

 

The rule also states: "After all scoring plays...Replay Review will be initiated by a Replay Official..."  

 

Since it was a scoring play, the Replay Official should have initiated the review immediately following the score.  Unless Schwartz threw the red flag before Forsett crossed the goal line, the review should have been initiated BEFORE Schwartz had the chance to commit the delay foul.  Nothing in the rules says a review that has already been initiated will be stopped and negated, if a delay foul happens.

Winimation
Winimation

Regardless of the intent, this is a penalty that 'Awards' up to 6 points for unsportsmanlike conduct.  A very slippery slope.  

Mike26
Mike26

The rule is there because the last few years too many coaches threw red flags to simply "Chat" with referees about previous plays/calls they didn't like and NOT about a reviewable play.  This rule is because of THEIR actions.

 

As a Texans fan, I assumed the call would be reversed; however, the idiot threw the flag out of anger and impetuosity - behavior that pretty much describes his Lions teams since his arrival. Can't act the fool yourself and then expect your players to play cleanly and under control.

 

I hope the NFL changes the rule to allow the review and then keep the 15-yard-penalty against the coach next season.  That way idiot coaches will still be penalized for arrogance/ignorance yet the call can be corrected if necessary - such as today.

LaurentLejeune
LaurentLejeune

This is the stupidest rule ever. Instant replay is supposed to correct bad calls, not to reinforce them. Thanks for calling the league out on this sheer absurdity. Somebody should be fired over this. Once again the wrong team won the game because of technicality. Where is the integrity of the game?

Jim C1
Jim C1

It really is a debacle. Can't wait to hear NFLs official explanation for why this truly moronic rule exists. What an embarrassment. I mean, they could even give hi a fifteen yard penalty (which *still* wouldn't make *any* sense, whatsoever) but negate a review? Incredible.

StevenKeys
StevenKeys

 @Mike26 This whole fiasco started because the refs missed the call (Forsett down-on-contact), didn't blow the (whistle)."  Where does that fit into your "procedure," Mike26?

 

Mistakes happen (refs), but Tom is right, "a bad call should be reviewable, no matter what."

PeteSauvé
PeteSauvé

 @James C , actually you are incorrect -- or at a minimum, you're applying YOUR made-up rules as though they are the actual NFL rules.

 

First, "initiate the review, which means he looks at the play then decides"...........For a scoring play there is no "he looks" and "THEN decides."  The decision is already made under the rules.  There is no "decision" and therefore it is automatically initiated upon completion of the play (the whistle).

 

Second, "The initiation of the review is when he buzzes down to the field asking the referee to review the play.".........Please quote the rules that define "initiate" in the manner that you've interpreted.  There is no such rule/definition.  In fact, the rules state, "any Replay Review will be initiated by a Replay Official from a Replay Booth..."  Meaning it's initiated IN THE BOOTH, not upon permission or by the Referee or anyone else down on the field.  

(You're confusing "conducting" the review with "initiating" the review - "...All Replay Reviews will be CONDUCTED by the Referee on a field-level monitor after consultation with..."  MY EMPHASIS)  

 

Again, read the actual rules, and then we can have an informed discussion.

 

 

 

jss3rd2587
jss3rd2587

 @PeteSauvé I totally agree.  I downloaded the NFL Rule Book and read 15:9 a number of times and I think that it was misapplied in both the Lions and Falcons games.  I wrote the NFL and asked them to point out the exact rule, section and paragraph that allowed what the refs did in the Falcon game, but of course they have never responded.

PeteSauvé
PeteSauvé

 

Upon further review.......it seems that Coach Schwartz DID cause the delay before the score.  From another article.....Schwartz: "I had the flag out of my pocket before he even scored."

 

Now what about the Arizona-Atlanta game?

 

James C
James C

There already is a rule on the books that does that. It may not specifically say that, but it's there.

 

The rule is basically covering an act by a player not eligible to particpate in the play which prevents a score from occuring. The classic example is you have a RB running free down the sideline, and a defensive player jumps off the bench and tackles him preventing a score. By rule the officials can allow the score to stand. I think this act also results in an ejection to the player invovled.

 

I have never seen it happen in tackle football, but I've heard of it happening before.

 

I have seen it in flag football on a game I was working. The guy jumped off the sideline and pulled the flag at the 10 yard line, which by rule caused him to be down. We awarded the touchdown and ejected him for unsportsmanlike conduct.

jss3rd2587
jss3rd2587

 @Mike26 Rule 15:9 provides for 2 types of review: 1) a coaches challenge; and 2) a refs request for review (automatic review).  A coach is prohibited from challenging a play that comes under automatic review and the penalty for doing so in 15 yards.  If a team commits a dead ball foul after the play, the coach cannot challenge the prior play.  That means after a dead ball foul, that team coach cannot challenge the prior play. In the Lions and Falcons games, the coach committed a "foul" by attempting to challenge a play that was subject to automatic review, i.e. a refs request for review.  The fact that the coach may be prevented from challenging the prior play should not mean that the ref is prohibited from his request for a review, i.e. the automatic review should still be done regardless of what the coach may or may not have done.  The refs are misreading the rule and I challenge the NFL to prove otherwise!!!  Read 15:9 - ir provides for a Coaches' Challenge, then for a Penalty for initiating a challenge when a team is prohibited from doing so, and then for a Replay Official's Request for Review.  The refs are merging the 3 different provisions into one and that is provided for in the rules!!!

James C
James C

I completely agree with you on that. The penalty isn't the issue with the rule. It's the fact that the review can't be done that is assinine about the rule.

 

Everybody in the world knows he was down on the play, except the 7 officials working the game. Sadly, this play may have impacted the rest of the game. Even if Detroit is penalized 15 yards, but review takes the TD away and he is ruled down, that eats up valuable time from the clock. Houston may still score, but how will it change the clock management and decision making the rest of the way? We will never know.

jss3rd2587
jss3rd2587

 @James C NFL rules do not apply to flag football!  While flag games may have rules, there is no way that those calling flag games have read and studied all 120 pages of the rule book.  Flag games are called using the most important rules that most fans know.  

jss3rd2587
jss3rd2587

 @Mike26 My prior posting should have finished by saying "The refs are merging the 3 different provisions into one and THAT IS NOT provided for in the rules!!!" rather than "The refs are merging the 3 different provisions into one and THAT IS provided for in the rules!!!"