Detroit Lions vs. Houston Texans Review: What the Heck Just Happened?

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Few words can describe the events that took place at Ford Field during this year’s first game in the Thanksgiving Day lineup. The Detroit Lions led the Houston Texans for much of the game before getting tied up at 31 and eventually losing in overtime 34-31. One can assume that any overtime game has its share of drama and excitement, but this contest had its share and then some. The ridiculous preposterousness is quite difficult to sum up, but one play in particular stuck out for its, uh, interesting quality.

Texans’ running back Justin Forsett took a handoff up the middle and was tackled for a five yard gain. Or so it seemed. After the majority of his body landed briefly on the turf, Forsett stood up and, well, kept running. Playing through a whistle happens every game in the NFL, as coaches always tell players not to stop until the play is definitively over. Except this time there wasn’t a whistle. The entire Detroit Lions defense, having witnessed an undisputable tackle on Forsett, stopped in their tracks, but Forsett kept going. Defensive end Lawrence Jackson was the only Lions defender to pursue Forsett, who was long gone by the time Jackson took off after him.

This is where the right call would normally be made, ending all discussion of the referees’ misperception. Except this is where chaotic hilarity (if I wasn’t an avid supporter of the Lions) ensued. Before the officials could review the scoring play, as per the new NFL rules, Lions’ coach Jim Schwartz threw the challenge flag. I will repeat this for emphasis. Bogus touchdown, Schwartz challenge flag. Doesn’t sound like a particularly egregious offense, does it?

Enter the most mind-numbingly inexplicable rule in the history of modern society. If a coach throws a challenge flag on a scoring play, it is a 15-yard penalty. What?! Well, I don’t really see the purpose behind that, but it’s only 15 yards. Except there’s an unfathomable stipulation that has the football world scratching its collective head. If a coach throws a challenge flag on a scoring play, the play is no longer eligible for review. Fiajsdlkfjlawepoapsdfvj. So let me get this straight. The NFL institutes automatic review on every scoring play to ensure that justice is served, committing themselves to getting it right every time. But if a coach—GASP!—throws the challenge flag on a scoring play, potential review is thrown out the window.

To say there is no logical reason for this rule is an understatement. But this is the NFL; a multibillion-dollar industry that is a cold, calculating engine of efficiency. Surely there must be a reason, right? Of course there is a reason, it’s just under the surface, right? I will now transform from NFL columnist to investigative/speculative/pulling-it-out-of-my-rear-end journalist to get to the bottom of this. Don’t worry, I’m on it. Here are 3 perfectly logical explanations for the replay rule that no one is able to explain.

  1. Bulls

The red NFL challenge flag has always been seen as a way to make the right call, but its threat is irresponsibly overlooked season after season: BULLS! Every time an NFL coach throws a challenge flag, an entire stadium with thousands of people is being carelessly risked as the odds of a bull-attack rise to 89%. Shame on you, NFL, shame on you.

  1. Global Warming

Plays are usually challenged by coaches when they truly believe that their team has been wronged. This is extremely likely to evoke an angry and emotional reaction from coaches, and everyone knows that emotions cause the human body temperature to rise (well, it makes sense, doesn’t it?). The feeling is likely shared by a stadium of full of angry fans, sending the heat index in the area to rise, which then makes the temperatures of surrounding areas to rise and increase the rapid effects of global warming . Are you trying to destroy our environment, Coach Schwartz? Shame on you.

  1. Small Pox

It’s not only bulls that we have to be worried about. Contrary to popular belief, the disease smallpox is far from over. The last molecular remnants of smallpox are located in NFL challenge flags, so to prevent the spread of this deadly disease the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has ordered the NFL to severely penalize teams who thoughtlessly throw smallpox on the field when it is not even necessary. Shame on you, Coach Schwartz, shame on you.

And there you have it. We can all agree that one of these reasons must explain a rule that is implemented in a system designed to enforce justice. So to all the people out there that are senselessly calling for this rule to be removed, let me  the first to condemn you for your selfish devotion to football and lack of concern for all the poor fans of Detroit who are clearly going to be subjected to bulls, global warming, and small pox. Shame on you.