League should, and will, revisit excessive penalty that cost LionsPeter King
This column is traditionally a look ahead to a good story angle in a Sunday or Monday game, but this week I'm throwing a changeup. I want to look at a dumb rule that needs to be changed. You know it, I know it, the league knows it ... and there's little question the league will change it for the 2013 season.The rule in question -- the illegality of a coach throwing the challenge flag and negating a replay review if he does -- cost the Lions a Texans touchdown and quite possibly a victory against Houston, though I am not excusing the brainlock of Detroit coach Jim Schwartz. He has to know the rules, and he got too upset at a vital time of game and blew a call that will haunt this Detroit season. But as an NFL source told me last night, the penalty is "too onerous'' and I will be shocked -- as will my well-informed source -- if half of the rule isn't overturned next year. The 15-yard penalty will likely stay on the books, but the automatica review won't get squashed because some ill-informed coach makes the mistake of throwing the challenge flag after a turnover or touchdown.
Here's the situation that lit the fire Thursday, as you saw in Detroit's overtime loss to the Texans at Ford Field: Houston running back Justin Forsett fell early in an 81-yard touchdown run, his knee and elbow both clearly touching the turf. And for some reason, the officials didn't see it. It's hard to tell from the replay who blew it, but I'm told it was either head linesman Jerry Bergman or line judge Mike Spanier who missed a call you can't miss in a Pop Warner game. Maybe one or both was shielded by a player or players. But two officials close to the scene, and five others strategically placed around the field? Utterly preposterous to miss a ball-carrier with two requisite body parts on the ground (only one is needed) to cause a tackle. But now it was up to the automatic review that occurs after every scoring play.