Even though the Detroit Lions gave away numerous opportunities to beat the Houston Texans on Thursday, a shocking blown call by officials in the third quarter has instantly morphed into one of the biggest talking points of Week 12.
Knocked to the ground with his knee and elbow each visibly touching the turf, Texans running back Justin Forsett proceeded to scamper 81 yards for a game-altering touchdown early in the third quarter. While the other 21 players on the field essentially stood around in amazement, all seven officials working the game arrived at the conclusion that the play should be ruled a touchdown.
Due to the fact that Lions coach Jim Schwartz immediately tossed his red challenge flag onto the field in disgust before the official review was set to begin, Detroit was quickly docked a 15-yard penalty and the opportunity to utilize a replay review was completely disallowed. Arguably one of the most frustrating officiating blunders in recent memory, Thursday's gaffe was more than enough to warrant changing the rule entirely, according to Pride of Detroit's Sean Yuille:
This rule should not exist in this form. Why should a coach throwing the challenge flag prevent the officials from getting the call right? Getting the call right is all that should really matter. Go ahead and penalize the team for its coach breaking the rules, but that shouldn't take away the chance for a review to happen and correct the officials' mistake. It especially shouldn't allow a completely obvious blown call like that stand. That is inexcusable.
The whole reason replay was brought into the NFL was to make sure bad calls like this don't affect the outcome of a game. Jim Schwartz certainly needs to be aware of the situation and not commit such a moronic penalty, and the officials should not get such an obvious call so wrong, but the NFL shouldn't have allowed a situation like this to exist. This needs to be changed going forward to allow replay to properly do its job.
Considering how egregious this missed call was in the first place, the league may very well be forced to reconsider this rule either immediately or at some point in the offseason. Texans coach Gary Kubiak also could have theoretically tossed out his own challenge flag on the same exact play to negate the replay review as well, representing an odd situation that could actually be ripe for exploitation in the future.