NFL Looks Into Replay Rule Change After Jim Schwartz, Lions Lose Close One Thanks to Gaffe

Detroit fans are calling for replacement rule-makers after this one.

The Lions were doing just fine on Thanksgiving Day against the AFC heavyweight Houston Texans until one little play turned their afternoon into a mess and got the football world looking at the game’s officials again.

Detroit was leading by 10 points when Houston’s Justin Forsett suddenly peeled off an 81-yard return for a score. The only problem was that pretty much everyone was sure Forsett had been tackled and that the run should be negated — including Lions coach Jim Schwartz.

So Schwartz tossed his challenge flag to get the play reviewed — which, thanks to a loophole in a new NFL rule, is the one thing he couldn’t do if he wanted the play reviewed.

According to the rule, all scoring plays are automatically reviewed — unless a coach throws his flag. In that case, the coach gets a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the play isn’t reviewed.

Forsett had never been whistled down, but it was pretty clear that the referees missed the call. No matter, though — they weren’t allowed to review it, even if they wanted to. So, because of a rule designed to slap the wrist in rare situations, the essence of the rule was destroyed, with the wrong call being made in the end.

The NFL quickly realized the problem it had on its hand and is now looking to change the rule, NFL vice president of football operations Ray Anderson said this week on The Dan Patrick Show. The only problem is that, with it being Week 12 of the season, changing the rule now would upset the competitive balance of the league (or so the NFL competitive balance gurus say). Since the Lions lost a game (at least in part) because of the rule, another team getting an advantage by the rule being corrected would be considered unfair, Judy Battista of the New York Times writes.

The NFL could change the rule for the playoffs, when all teams basically hit a reset, or before next season.

But a rule that was dubious to start with (didn’t anyone see this could happen when they put the rule in place?) will at least be around for a few more weeks of football.

Someone throw a challenge flag at that.

Photo of the Day

Justin Timberlake has had better days as a cheerleader.

Quote of the Day

“[Paul] Pierce is one of the more crafty guys in this league.”
– Thunder coach Scott Brooks, on the dude who scored 27 points on 8-of-16 field goal shooting, 7-of-7 free throw shooting and 4-of-6 3-point shooting Friday night as the Celtics beat the Thunder 108-100

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This week’s random “We hate the NHL lockout” tweet is brought to you by NESN. Thanks for keeping it clean, fans.

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Yeah, that’s a pretty solid catch.

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