In the most embarrassing display of pathetic NFL officiating since the replacement refs’ Fail Mary ended the lockout, the Texans were handed an 81-yard touchdown on what should have been an eight-yard run by Justin Forsett.
But Lions coach Jim Schwartz deserves part of the blame as well.
Forsett took a handoff and ran up the middle and was clearly tackled after eight yards. Anyone with two good eyes (or even one good eye) could see that both Forsett’s knee and his elbow were on the ground, and players on both teams started walking back to get into the huddle for the next play.
But apparently none of the seven officials the NFL sent to Ford Field today has even one good eye, because none of them saw that Forsett was down. And when Forsett realized that none of the officials saw him go down, he got back up and sprinted to the end zone. The ruling on the field was a touchdown.
OK, no problem: Touchdowns are automatically reviewed, and this one will be overturned on replay, right? Wrong.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz threw his challenge flag, which is against the rules on scoring plays, which are automatically reviewed. And the NFL’s rules say that when you throw a challenge flag on a play that is automatically reviewed, not only are you penalized 15 yards, but the play is no longer reviewed. So Schwartz’s bonehead decision sealed the Texans’ touchdown.
But while Schwartz could be seen pointing to himself and saying, “That’s on me,” it’s really on the officials. This was an unconscionable mistake.
The NFL recently fined referee Tony Corrente his game check for swearing into an open microphone. The officials working today’s game in Detroit deserve a much harsher punishment than that, for a much worse mistake.