This problem, or loophole in the rule even, went largely unnoticed until the Thanksgiving Day game between the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions. There was a bad call on a long touchdown run and Jim Schwartz quickly threw the red challenge flag. Recently the NFL had changed the rules to make all scoring plays automatically reviewed.
The rule from last seasons says that if you challenge an automatically reviewed play the penalty is that there will be no review. That in itself is just plain silly and leaves me dumbfounded. Why is there even a penalty for that? The penalty should be looking silly on national television and some good natured ribbing about your ineptitude from color commentators and analysts.
It doesn’t make sense right? Well the NFL is planning to address this issue.
The competition committee met in Indianapolis yesterday and NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson addressed this rule in particular with The Associated Press, via ESPN.com.
“The bottom line is that we will get resolution on that play where we will get it right, where the play on the field is correctly administered,” Anderson said.
And while many thought no one would ever be dumb enough to do this, it happened a second time. After watching divisional foe Jim Schwartz get burned by this rule, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy threw a flag in a week 17 game against the Minnesota Vikings. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson quickly picked up the flag and the Packers weren’t penalized.
“I think we need to clean up the situations about what is reviewed, with Detroit and I think it was the Green Bay-Minnesota game,” Giants co-owner John Mara said in the ESPN article. “I think we’ll address that. I’m not sure what the language will look like yet.”
Certainly there could be other ways to penalize a team other than cancelling a review. Revoke a challenge option, take away a time out, anything but intentionally botching a call.