The NFL usually does a great job of implementing new rules to protect players, keeping pace with the speed of the game and to make the game experience for the fans the best in all of professional sports.
However, it looks like the league messed up when it implemented a new rule this season, and this came to light the last couple of weeks. This rule did not cost the Falcons a win two weeks ago, but it did cost the Lions an important win that would have put them in the playoff hunt.
The rule in dispute states if the play is an automatic review (touchdown and turnovers), and if a team throws the challenge flag on this type of play, not only are they penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, but also the play is now not reviewable. That is the big issue here.
So, for the people who did not see the play on U.S. Thanksgiving in Detroit, Houstonâ€™s Justin Forsett scored a touchdown, but it was obvious from all replays his knee was down and the score should not count.
Since it was ruled a touchdown on the field, the play would be automatically reviewed. Lions coach Jim Schwartz must have forgotten this, and in the heat of the moment threw the challenge flag that eliminated any possible booth review. This gave the Texans a cheap touchdown, momentum and cut Detroitâ€™s lead to only three points. Houston went on to win the game.
Yes, you can blame the NFL for having initiated this stupid rule (15-yard penalty makes sense, but not losing the review), but you can also blame Coach Schwartz for not knowing the rule. Truly, this was his mistake for throwing the challenge flag, which cost the Lions the game and most likely their season.
You would have thought Schwartz would have been updated and refreshed about this rule during the days before this game.
There was a similar incident the week previous between the Falcons and Cardinals over a fumble call.
Regardless of the coaching mistakes concerning this rule by Schwartz and the Falconsâ€™ Mike Smith, hopefully the NFL will change it immediately as there is a loophole in the rule. If they donâ€™t correct it very soon, it will probably cost another team a game.
Here is an example of the loophole: if The Freak is head coach of the Giants and it looks like Victor Cruz stepped out of bounds on a catch but itâ€™s ruled a TD on the field, you know, as a coach, itâ€™s going to be automatically reviewed. You know there is a very good chance it might be overturned and not ruled a touchdown.
Therefore, The Freak throws the challenge flag and now the Giants can be guaranteed that the touchdown will stand as they can no longer review the play. Itâ€™s a way to manipulate this stupid rule, and it needs be corrected now.
Pet peeve of the week
These bad Monday night games of late â€“ Chiefs and Steelers, Panthers and Eagles.
Stat of the week
Baltimoreâ€™s Ray Rice converted a fourth-and-29 late in the fourth quarter on a swing pass that was the longest fourth-down conversion in 10 years. This led to the Ravensâ€™ come-from-behind overtime win, and put the nail in the coffin of the Chargersâ€™ playoff chances.
Bonehead play of the week
The six missed tackles on the above play by the Chargersâ€™ defence is inexcusable at this particular time in the game, and this point of the season.
The sure thing
The Eagles have crash-landed, and now head on road to play the hated Cowboys. Philly is probably without Mike Vick, Desean Jackson is on IR and the O-line is a total mess. Cowboys win over a Philly team that has packed it in for the season.
Miami always seems to play the Patriots tough, especially when the game is in sunny Florida. However, it doesnâ€™t matter where this game is played this season as New England just has too much firepower on offence, and the Dolphins have a severe shortage. Take the Pats on the road.
The Packers arenâ€™t happy with the beating they took at the hands of the Gmen, and now head home to play the Vikings. Minnesota has difficulties on the road, especially outdoor games when the weather turns cold. Green Bay shows up this week and hammers the Vikes at Lambeau.
Donâ€™t mortgage the house picks
Didnâ€™t Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch look like an oldtimer versus the Browns? They better hope Big Ben is ready to play on the road against the Ravens. If the Steelers were healthy they would have a chance, but they arenâ€™t. Take Baltimore.
In a game no one cares about, the Cards visit the Jets. New York might look good in this one as Arizona has a rookie quarterback who is awful, and they have to make the long trek to the cold East Coast. Jets win and the New York tabloids give Mark Sanchez a one-week reprieve.
All you hear about is how great RGIII is, and how he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL already. With that being said, guess the New York Giants have no chance in this one, so you better take the Redskins.
The Freak doesnâ€™t like how the Texansâ€™ defence has played the last two weeks against the Jags and Lions, and the blueprint is out there to exploit their weaknesses.
Houston travels to play division rival Tennessee in a game that means nothing but playing for jobs for the Titans. The Texans, meanwhile, would like to move towards locking up home-field advantage in the AFC.
Houston comes out flat again, and this time will pay as Chris Johnson runs wild. Titans pull the upset.
Last week: 3-for-7.
John Turner is a Summerside schoolteacher. His column appears every Saturday during the NFL season. Feel free to e-mail questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.