Friday, November 23, 2012

Justin Forsett's Touchdown Against the Detroit Lions? Bogus, in More Ways Than One

This might be sacreligous or blasphemous for a sports journalism major, but I didn't really watch all that much football yesterday. I saw parts of all three NFL games, but I didn't watch a single game in its entirety, preferring instead to eat, take audio recordings of Thanksgiving Day (it's for a project on holiday tradition), and watch other television shows.

But I did happen to see Justin Forsett of the Houston Texans run for an 81-yard touchdown that shouldn't have been.

Forsett was tackled after an eight-yard run in the third quarter, but took advantage of a non-call by the officials and ran the other 73 yards to the end zone when the referees failed to whistle the play dead. Jim Schwartz threw a red challenge flag, which nulled Detroit's right to have the play reviewed. Such a reassessment probably would have caused the refs to overturn their original call.

How silly is that?

Imagine you go to a restaurant that promises you a free salad before your meal, but the waiter doesn't bring it right away. So you ask him to bring your salad and he says, "Well, I was going to bring it, but we aren't allowed to bring salads to people who ask for them. I'm sorry."

That's what it's like that the officials weren't able to review Forsett's touchdown yesterday.

Stop and think for a moment just how absurd this rule is. Every other touchdown yesterday, per NFL rules, would had to have been reviewed by the referees to ensure the player who scored actually reached the end zone. But the Lions, just because of a relatively minor error by their head coach, lost that opportunity in the third quarter of yesterday's game. The NFL took away one of their basic rights as a football team just because Schwartz threw a flag when he wasn't supposed to, and a touchdown that should have been reversed was counted.

Reviewable plays in the NFL should be equal opportunity, not based upon mistakes that head coaches make. The Lions got gypped yesterday. It's not even questionable that Forsett's run shouldn't have ended in six points. That really hurt the Lions, who now have very slim playoff hopes at 4-7-0. Sure, you can't say the Lions definitely would have won yesterday's game if that touchdown had been overturned, but there's no doubt the play made a difference in a game that was decided by just three points.

Luckily, it looks like this rule might get changed ... and perhaps sooner rather than later. Peter King wrote on Twitter early this morning that he was, "Told NFL very likely to overturn in 2013 challenge-flag rule that hurt Detroit+Schwartz." And Ed Werder added that the NFL might even change said statute this season.

Good. That's a silly rule anyway. After all, if I'm promised a complimentary salad I want the server to deliver ... even if I have to remind him to bring it to me.

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