The Texans Sneak Past the Lions with the Help of the NFL's Most Bizarre Rule

Ed KrupatContributor IIINovember 23, 2012

Don't throw that bag, Jim!!
Don't throw that bag, Jim!!Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Lions were robbed of a win on Turkey Day by an NFL rule that is nothing short of bizarre and absurd. 

Let’s recall what happened: Texans running back Justin Forsett gets tackled, at which point his elbow and knee hit the ground. The play is clearly over for everyone on the field except for two relevant parties--Justin Forsett, who decides to keep running after the tackle, and the refs, all of whom missed the contact of knee and ground. 

Perhaps they were all texting their loved ones at the moment with Thanksgiving greetings. The call on the field: touchdown.

But this is why replay was invented. This should be as easy as apple, or on this day, pumpkin pie. Any person with the gift of sight watching the replay could see that the player was legally down and the play over, regardless of the absence of a whistle. A player cannot advance after being tackled and hitting the ground. 

Everyone who saw the replay knew that the TD would be called back--until the moment that head referee Walt Coleman turned on his microphone and announced touchdown.

Could this be the same Walt Coleman who invoked the tuck rule on Tom Brady’s apparent fumble against the Raiders in 2002. That’s our man Walt, destined, through no particular fault of his own, to find himself forever in the middle of controversy by having to enforce some of the most arcane rules in professional sports. 

So what happened? As I understand this brilliant rule, if a coach calls for a review of a play that would otherwise have been reviewed, because he asked for the review, the play is not reviewable. Makes perfect sense, right?

Had Forsett been tackled at the one, coach Jim Schwartz could have thrown the red hacky sack and gotten a review, with the play called back. Had he not tossed his little red bean bag, the referees would have simply reviewed it and called the play back.

But because he asked them to do what they were about to do anyway, now they can’t do it? That’s apparently the rule, along with a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, just to put the icing on this very untasty cake.

Although the wise minds of the NFL were likely trying to keep coaches from making frivolous challenges when they came up with this one, I can’t imagine that they ever intended for this to happen.

As a kid learning math in school, I was always amazed when my teachers told me that if you multiply a minus with a minus, the result is a plus. That seemed strange to me, but I have accepted this and gone on with my life. 

But the NFL seems to have gone one step further in inventing the new math. When it comes to replay, when you put a plus (refs will automatically review the play) together with another plus (the coach also wants the review to occur), you get a minus. Sorry Charlie, no replay for you. Why—because you asked for one. 

Shame on you, NFL. Let’s get a review and reversal on this one. Whoops, maybe that cannot happen because I requested it.