It was a heartbreaking loss. The lions, for the first time in recent memory showed up to play on Thanksgiving. They stood toe to toe with the Houston Texans and they were coming out ahead. That is until a play that should have remained dead wasn't, and a coach who should have kept his calm, didn't.
The rule is as follows:
Coaches' Challenge: In each game, a team will be permitted two challenge that will initiate instant replay reviews, except for plays when the on-field ruling is a score for either team, an interception, a fumble or backward pass that is recovered by an opponent or goes out of bounds through an opponent's end zone, or a muffed scrimmage kick recovered by the kicking team. A team is also prohibited from challenging any ruling after the two-minute warning of each half, and throughout any overtime period. Each challenge will require the use of a team timeout. If a challenge is upheld, the timeout will be restored to the challenging team. A challenge will only be restored if a team is successful on both of its challenges, in which case it shall be awarded a third challenge, but a fourth challenge will not be permitted under any circumstances. A team may challenge an on-field ruling up until the the next legal snap or kick. If there is a foul that delays the next snap, the team committing that foul will no longer be able to challenge the previous ruling. No challenges will be recognized from a team that has exhausted its time outs. A team that is out of timeouts or has used all of its available challenges may not attempt to initiate an additional challenge.
Penalty: For initiating a challenge when a team is prohibited from doing so: Loss of 15 yards.
This very same rule has affected the Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak, Mike Mcarthy of the Green Bay Packers and even the Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith.
After the Atlanta incident Fox referee analyst Mike Pereira tweeted, “If the challenge flag is thrown before the replay official initiates the review then the play is not reviewable.”
It is a rule that everyone in the league knows needs to change, but as of today, it is still a rule. Just like the Calvin Johnson process incident - this too will cause the NFL to take a second look at how they govern the game, not that knowing that changes how any of us Lions fans feel.
Now the blame game has to start. The Ref's could take some blame - their inability to recognize that Justin Forsett was not in fact, Spiderman, the Lions Defense for not playing until the whistle and of course, Jim Schwartz. I believe Jim Schwartz ultimately has to shoulder this one. As I wrote earlier, this has happened to 3 other coaches recently - one of the incidences against the very coach the Lions were playing against! This was not a case of Jim Schwartz not knowing the rule. In the replay he immediately takes responsibility - you can see him mouth "it's on me" multiple times. No, this is a case of a coach letting the heat of the moment and letting his frustration with an earlier blown call get the better of him, and the better of his team.
Jim Schwartz: "I overreacted. I was so mad. That's all my fault."
"I know that we can't challenge a turnover or a scoring play and I overreacted," the Detroit coach said. "That's all my fault. I overreacted in that situation and I cost us a touchdown."
We all have done it one time or another in our lives. Something happens, you get pissed and throw your phone, or remote controller to the PS3, but those reactions affect only you, and maybe whomever else is in the room (unless you throw said electronic device through someone else's big screen TV, then you really have some splainin' to do.) Jim Schwarz affected himself, everyone on that field and everyone at home watching the game with his irresponsible behavior. Do we call for his head? Do we want to see him run out-of-town, chasing with pitchforks and torches?
Maybe it is time to reflect on the coach that so many of us have given pass to. So often we have taken to piling on Stafford, on the D-Line, our secondary, our special teams - but at what point do you assign responsibility to the one man who oversees them all? The lions are 4-7. Next week, we face Indy, followed by Green Bay, Arizona, Atlanta and Chicago. It is very possible that the Lions could lose every one of those games, Arizona being their best chance for a win. While the Lions played tough this week, inconsistency has been the only thing consistent on that field this year - next to mediocrity. The schedule only lightens up for the Lions after Dec 30th, while the they head to the golf course and most of the teams they play in the next 4 weeks head to the playoffs.
Yes, there were 71 minutes left in a game where both teams fought like champions to win - would this play, had it gone differently change the outcome of the game? Possibly. There are other factors in play to consider in this Thanksgiving day loss however, from the play of Pettigrew to the choice to kick a field goal on 3rd and 11 instead of pushing to get a few more yards for aging kicker Jason Hanson. What do you think Nation? If the Lions are looking down the pipe at a 4-12 or 5-11 season, is it time to look elsewhere for a coaching solution? I hear Norv Turner might be looking for a job - How about Andy Reid?