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Schwartz missed a chance to keep Sunday's game close

League insiders say that Lions coach Jim Schwartz is a smart guy.  (They also say that, if you don’t already know it, just ask him and he’ll tell you.)

But Schwartz, in hindsight, wasn’t as smart as advertised on Sunday in Chicago.

By all appearances, Johnny Knox’s 102-yard kickoff return to launch the second half included a DeSean Jackson-style throwing down of the ball before the ball crossed the end zone in the possession of Knox.

When Jackson, then a rookie wideout with the Eagles, threw down the ball before taking it into the end zone on a Monday night last year, the Cowboys challenged.  The ruling?  No touchdown.

By rule, however, the ball was dead when it struck the ground.  So the Eagles got the ball at the Dallas one, and they thereafter scored a touchdown.

When someone first pointed out the Knox gaffe to us, which Schwartz didn’t challenge, we figured, “No big deal.  The Bears would have had the ball at the one, and they likely would have scored a touchdown.”

But then we watch the video.

Knox appears to release the ball in the field of play.  But since he didn’t throw it backward, like Jackson did, the immutable laws of physics (I don’t actually know what “immutable” means, but I’ve seen it used in this context, and I like the sound of it) resulted in the ball continuing to move forward, landing in the end zone.

And so the ruling, if the red flag had been thrown, would have been:  (1) a fumble; and (2) a touchback for the Lions.

So not only would the Chicago touchdown have been wiped off the board, but the Lions would have had the football, first and ten, at their own 20.

Instead, the touchdown (with the extra point) pushed the score to 28-21.  And the Bears gradually pulled away, winning 48-24.

There’s no way to know whether the outcome would have been different if Schwartz had thrown the flag, but if the video had demonstrated that Knox had fumbled, the Lions would have had plenty of momentum in a 21-21 game, and the Bears would have felt like the wind had instantly been sucked out of the Windy City.

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32 Responses to “Schwartz missed a chance to keep Sunday's game close”
  1. RandyO says: Oct 6, 2009 10:20 AM

    Mike Florio sure has a weird obsession with the Detroit Lions. I mean its almost to a point that I would call it stalker type of obsession. Seriously Mike go get a hobby like basket weaving or stain glass making something other then obsessing about the Detroit Lions.

  2. LionsFan says: Oct 6, 2009 10:28 AM

    Ignore RandyO, Mike, and keep reporting on the Lions. No one else does. Thanks!

  3. Obnoxio says: Oct 6, 2009 10:29 AM

    I think many times the problem is a lack of timely video replays by the TV networks. I didn’t see the Lions game but I did notice last night that the Vikings would have challenged a deflected pass catch but the slappies at ESPN showed a video of an empty field instead of a replay.

  4. pat in philly says: Oct 6, 2009 10:29 AM

    you went to law school right?
    right?
    and you don’t know what “immutable” means?
    If its a joke, its a bad one

  5. zygi milf says: Oct 6, 2009 10:30 AM

    Maybe the red flag was stuck in his back pocket like Childress’ flag last night.

  6. juggadore says: Oct 6, 2009 10:31 AM

    Randy, i think he’s more obsessive about favre, but i see what youre saying.
    i didnt see the play, but wouldnt it be a touch back only if the ball landed out of bounds through the endzone?
    that would mean anytime a ball is fumbled in the endzone and the play is whistled dead, it would be at touchback.

  7. dcfan-1212450 says: Oct 6, 2009 10:39 AM

    I thought i saw that on Sportcenter too. Seriously, there are some stupid receivers out there. Deshean Jackson is just special. Check his records, he has had this same gaffe before, in an all american high school game. I mean call Schwartz stupid for that is hard, but definately call Johnny Knox stupid, because, well, he is, and got lucky…

  8. mofo says: Oct 6, 2009 10:39 AM

    The very second he dropped the ball so close to the goal line, I began waiting for a red flag or at minimum a gd announcer to comment on it. Nada, nothing, zip.
    In fact I don’t believe there were even any replays broadcast prior to the extra point being kicked.
    Don’t they say coaches are somewhat beholden to such replays before they can challenge in confidence? You know, wait for the GD worthless broadcast crew to do their effing jobs free of incompetence?

  9. mofo says: Oct 6, 2009 10:40 AM

    The very second he dropped the ball so close to the goal line, I began waiting for a red flag or at minimum a gd announcer to comment on it. Nada, nothing, zip.
    In fact I don’t believe there were even any replays broadcast prior to the extra point being kicked.
    Don’t they say coaches are somewhat beholden to such replays before they can challenge in confidence? You know, wait for the GD worthless broadcast crew to do their effing jobs free of incompetence?

  10. SaintsBucsPanthersSUKK says: Oct 6, 2009 10:41 AM

    Haiku:
    That lunkhead Jim Schwartz
    Should have thrown that there red flag
    Swing momentum ’round

  11. mofo says: Oct 6, 2009 10:43 AM

    Quick side note: as the replay is broadcast in game highlights on Sunday recaps by ESPN, the mother flucking score graphic obscured the act completely.
    Ridiculous. This has me apoplectic, Larry. Apoplectic!

  12. Quagmire says: Oct 6, 2009 10:44 AM

    The coach didn’t throw the flag because he didn’t see it. His eyes were still stinging from the champagne spraying everywhere after the Redskin game.

  13. FinfanJim says: Oct 6, 2009 10:45 AM

    Yeah, it’s hard to tell by that video even after going full screen. But, to me, it appears he drops it straight down as soon as he crosses the line.
    Also, we need to look at the rulebook. In order for it to be a touchback, I believe it has to be recovered by the Lions, which it never was. So since a forward fumble cannot be advanced and is dead at the point of the fumble, it would be Bears ball at the 1. If it was a fumble at all.
    Which I still think it wasn’t…

  14. lionsfan54 says: Oct 6, 2009 10:46 AM

    How does being smart or not control what replay you see in the enemy stadium? It’s hard to make the right decision when you are denied all the facts.
    It wasn’t like he challenged it wrong or something. It was a blown call and he had no chance to do anything about it.
    Give the lions bashing a rest already. Did you watch that Bears D line in the second half? That game was over when the 3rd quarter started. One challenge wasn’t going to save them.

  15. SmackMyVickUp says: Oct 6, 2009 10:49 AM

    Lions only show up for the first half of games and then proceed to turn on cruise control. Fortunately the cruise control still allowed them to beat the Redskins.

  16. Dewey ActSwooned says: Oct 6, 2009 10:54 AM

    I’ve been waiting for this story, wondering when it would come out…
    I have yet to see a replay of the play that shows the very ending, but I sure as hell thought he DeSean’ed it. In fact, right when it happened, I jumped up and started yelling, “Get the ball!! Get the ball! No! No! What are you DOING!!”
    Thankfully, though, the Lions coaching staff doesn’t have the same, shrewd, ominiscient view of (and insights into) the game that this fat, beer-swilling, wing-sucking, arm chair NFL wizard does.
    And verily I say unto–that return WAS the dime upon which that game spun into prety much total domination by the Bears.
    It’s all moot now–we might as well have a debate about the make, color, quality, and design of the locks that are going onto the barn doors,
    while the cows are already out in the fields getting humped by the bulls and happily munching clover…
    Follow me?

  17. UniBallOut says: Oct 6, 2009 11:01 AM

    To concur with LionsFan, I also like how you give updates to a team often neglected, but with a large, passionate fan base.
    I think Schwartz did the right thing by not challenging. You often lose them and since it was the second half, it’s better to save that TO. In the first half, I would say throw the red flag all day. But the second half you got to save them. It was looking like a close game, so the TO in the 4th might have been very beneficial and to burn it in the first 10 seconds is a big, big risk.
    Schwartz didn’t know his team would not be able to handle Chicago’s half time adjustments. The whole first half they moved the ball quite willingly. In hindsight, sure, it might have been beneficial. But the offense still got crushed by the D scheme that had changed.

  18. akuehn713 says: Oct 6, 2009 11:03 AM

    It would have been a touchback because on the replay review the ball would be spotted at the dead ball spot. In this case it’s in the endzone, they wouldn’t award the ball to the Bears in the endzone, it would go to the Lions. A loose ball that is downed in the endzone is a touchback, just like when a kick returner takes a knee in the endzone. It’s a touchback, not a TD for the kicking team.

  19. ModHairKen says: Oct 6, 2009 11:08 AM

    Said Buccaneers WR Michael Clayton, “I’ve got to get more opportunities. I’m a guy that can help this team win.”
    Clayton dropped three balls. What an ass.

  20. angrytoads says: Oct 6, 2009 11:30 AM

    the Lions have lost to teams with a combined record of 11-1 followed by the defending champs this week, and then the Pack in GreenBay next week … how does a team that finished 0-16 “last year” get such a difficult schedule??????? could they be better than they look? im just asking

  21. Jeff says: Oct 6, 2009 11:54 AM

    @Uniballout – They play absolutely warranted a challenge. Coaches don’t save their challenge just to save a timeout on a play like that. It was a game changer. You don’t concede a TD and possession if you think there’s a chance the play might be reversed, just to save a TO. That’s ridiculous. You have to wonder who is making that call from upstairs for the Lions, but whoever it is absolutely should have had him throw the flag. It was worth a challenge based on the impact to the game at that point.
    All that said, I still don’t think there would have been an angle that definitely would have shown where he was when the ball came out. There was no camera at the goalline in that situation, so it might have been a longshot that the ref would have seen indisputable evidence, but still, well worth a challenge. We’ve seen closer plays reversed, so it’s always possible. Heck, last week in the Bears game, I didn’t think there was any chance that Lovie’s challenge on the Forte fumble would be reversed, but it was, and it had a major impact on the game. Any time you’re talking a TD or change in possession (in the Lions’ case, both) on a potentially questionable play, a coach needs to throw the red flag.

  22. UniBallOut says: Oct 6, 2009 12:00 PM

    angrytoads:
    Yes, the Lion’s are better than they look. They aren’t playoff contenders and have a ways to go, but there rookies are playing hard and making improvements each week.

  23. Dwebert4 says: Oct 6, 2009 12:01 PM

    I’ve watched it on the DVR in super slow motion at least a dozen times. From the angle shown on the televised replay, it is impossible to definitively tell whether or not the ball had broken the plane of the goal line or not. What is certain is that the ball was clearly headed for the turf before either of Knox’s feet had crossed the goal line. Rookie mistake, he apparently got away with a big one.

  24. angrytoads says: Oct 6, 2009 12:18 PM

    -Uniballout
    Good point about the rookies … i cant think of a time in recent memory when the Lions got contributions from most of their draft picks … can you??
    I think you’d have to go back to the 89 draft! LOL that year they got Barry, Rodney Peete, Ray Crockett, etc.

  25. DetroitHoosier says: Oct 6, 2009 12:48 PM

    I was at the game. The problem watching it on TV is that you get the replays. The coach on the sideline often does not.
    Challenges are always easier for the home team than the away team because the stadium video board guy can help the home team coach out.
    THERE WAS NO REPLAY RIGHT AWAY OF THE KNOX TD ON THE VIDEO BOARD. No replay until after the extra point was good.
    Contrast that with the catch by Calvin Johnson where he seemed to catch the ball out of bounds. As soon as the play was over the replay was on the board and the Bears challenged it.
    All game long any play that might be questionable from the sidelines view got shown for the Bears and not for the Lions.
    Reffering to the DeShawn mistake against the Cowboys. I was not at that game but the Cowboys were the home team. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the replay showed up right away but had it been a Cowboy mistake it would not have been shown until after the extra point was good.
    Something to consider when questioning a coach throwing the red flag or not – they are only as good as what their player tell them or what they can see on a jumbo tron replay.

  26. DetroitHoosier says: Oct 6, 2009 12:52 PM

    I was at the game. The problem watching it on TV is that you get the replays. The coach on the sideline often does not.
    Challenges are always easier for the home team than the away team because the stadium video board guy can help the home team coach out.
    THERE WAS NO REPLAY RIGHT AWAY OF THE KNOX TD ON THE VIDEO BOARD. No replay until after the extra point was good.
    Contrast that with the catch by Calvin Johnson where he seemed to catch the ball out of bounds. As soon as the play was over the replay was on the board and the Bears challenged it.
    All game long any play that might be questionable from the sidelines view got shown for the Bears and not for the Lions.
    Reffering to the DeShawn mistake against the Cowboys. I was not at that game but the Cowboys were the home team. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the replay showed up right away but had it been a Cowboy mistake it would not have been shown until after the extra point was good.
    Something to consider when questioning a coach throwing the red flag or not – they are only as good as what their player tell them or what they can see on a jumbo tron replay.

  27. ☻☼CBS, FOX, ESPN, NFLN nbc says: Oct 6, 2009 2:05 PM

    All of your “hindsight-20/20″ post are stupid.
    If this woulda happened
    if norv would threw that
    blah blah blah

  28. TSE says: Oct 6, 2009 2:16 PM

    The ball did go forward, and it also barely broke the plane, so it is likely that another angle would have proven that the release point was prior to the breaking of the plane.

  29. josdin00 says: Oct 6, 2009 3:07 PM

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v343/josdin00/knox.jpg
    Here’s a freeze frame from the highlight video on NFL.com. You can see his back foot is still on the one yard line, his front foot is about to come down on the goal line, and the ball is already out of his hands, behind him. The lions missed a big opportunity here.

  30. Dewey ActSwooned says: Oct 6, 2009 4:28 PM

    @dcfan-1212450,
    Read your comments elsewhere…and I’ve reconsidered my opinion of you.
    And I misinterpreted your “lucky” remark completely.
    So lesson learned–next time I shouldn’t be so quick to be such a d1ck.
    My apologies.
    Yes. I just apologized in a public forum. Now get ready for the sun to explode and for flying pigs to speak in perfect iambic pentameter.

  31. fastfred21 says: Oct 6, 2009 8:01 PM

    and to think I was pissed that the refs missed the block in the back on that play…but I’d still fire the special teams coach.

  32. aaugusti says: Oct 6, 2009 10:07 PM

    The Lions would not have got the ball on a replay. Greg Aiello said today that there was not enough evidence to show the ball came out before the goal line. He also said it would have been an “illegal forward pass” and not a fumble. Therefore it would have been a 5 yard spot foul, putting the ball on the 6 yard line for Chicago.
    http://www.mlive.com/lions/index.ssf/2009/10/interesting_lions_twist_knox_f.html

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