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The red-flag-no-review rule has to go

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Getty Images

Several weeks ago, NBC officiating consultant Jim Daopoulos told me that, technically, the throwing of the red challenge flag by a coach on a play that is automatically reviewable not only results in a 15-yard penalty but also wipes out the review.

I was confused (of course, that’s not all that uncommon), but Daopoulos was persistent.

On Sunday, it happened in Atlanta.  Falcons coach Mike Smith sent the red challenge flag flying after a turnover, which automatically is reviewable.  Because Smith tried to ask for that to which he already was entitled, the Falcons ended up getting the Judge Smails treatment.

It should have served as a clear lesson to every coach to not surrender to the impulse to throw the flag upon witnessing a bad call on a play that results in a touchdown or a turnover, or that happens in the final two minutes of either half or at any point in overtime.

On Thursday, however, Georgetown-educated Lions coach Jim Schwartz threw the red flag after an obvious bad call on an I’ve-fallen-and-I-can-get-up touchdown run from Texans tailback Justin Forsett.

The result?  Fifteen yard penalty, and no review of the clear officiating error.

Daopoulos explained on Monday’s edition of PFT Live that the approach was changed in the offseason because too many coaches were throwing the red flag when they shouldn’t have been throwing it, delaying the game.  Still, the 15 yards of field position should be enough of a penalty.  Pulling the plug on a system aimed at erasing bad calls because the coach had the audacity to react to the bad call makes no sense.  More importantly, it’s unfair.

That’s why the rule needs to go.  Here’s hoping the NFL doesn’t wait until the offseason to do it.  Given today’s events, the NFL needs to make the change now.

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61 Responses to “The red-flag-no-review rule has to go”
  1. captainwisdom8888 says: Nov 22, 2012 3:35 PM

    Higher priority should be given to SIMPLY GETTING THE CALL RIGHT!

  2. Samuel says: Nov 22, 2012 3:37 PM

    A 15 yard penalty does nothing. On the kickoff, the kicker likely would kick it for a touchback. The 15 yards will for sure guarantee the touchback. So essentially, it’s like the punishment never happened since the end result will be the same.

    Until they can figure out a proper punishment, the rule has to stay. There needs to be a deterrent and 15 yards won’t do it.

  3. archetypeobscure says: Nov 22, 2012 3:40 PM

    The officials used the rules to get a play they missed wrong. Obviously there’s a problem there.

  4. nightwing1985 says: Nov 22, 2012 3:42 PM

    Didn’t Bruce Arians try to challenge a touchdown in the colt’s week 5 game against the packers? There wasn’t much of an outcry about the 15 yard penalty and the wiped review back then.

  5. Jason Wilde says: Nov 22, 2012 3:43 PM

    Exactly–the 15 yd. penalty is a small price to pay for delaying the game to get extra time for a booth review. Because a replay can happen any time before the next play, the incentive for the coach is to throw the red flag in order to get more time for the booth review. So the rule makes sense.

    And to not put any blame on the coach is dumb. Coaches should know the rules–and this one is pretty basic, esp. since we’re in Week 12.

  6. shaggeez says: Nov 22, 2012 3:43 PM

    Samuel says:
    Nov 22, 2012 3:37 PM
    A 15 yard penalty does nothing. On the kickoff, the kicker likely would kick it for a touchback. The 15 yards will for sure guarantee the touchback. So essentially, it’s like the punishment never happened since the end result will be the same.

    Until they can figure out a proper punishment, the rule has to stay. There needs to be a deterrent and 15 yards won’t do it.

    ____________________________________
    Texans fan?

  7. hifive123 says: Nov 22, 2012 3:45 PM

    Samuel, you’re assuming the review will automatically result in a touchdown, which in this case it wouldn’t have.

  8. jro4513 says: Nov 22, 2012 3:47 PM

    Biggest joke of a call ever! Are you kidding me! Almost as bad as the the Seattle Green Bay game. Terrible rule.

  9. noeffinway says: Nov 22, 2012 3:50 PM

    It should not matter that Schwartz throws the challenge flag. They say that you cannot benefit from throwing a flag when you are not allowed to. Well, a scoring play
    is reviewable anyways, SO how was he gaining any advantage by throwing the flag?? He wasn;t! It was going to be reviewed anyways! Now if he throws it on an un-reviewable
    play then ok. But c’mon man! There is no way the NFL is going to let Detroit win this one. This is a sham!

  10. mvincent81 says: Nov 22, 2012 3:50 PM

    @ Samuel, so you’re saying that the call in Detroit wouldn’t have been overturned? It would have given Houston a 1st & 10 instead of a 3rd and 5. Not the touchdown that was given. So technically Detroit was penalized twice on the same play. Seems fair right?

  11. offthelows says: Nov 22, 2012 3:51 PM

    I agree change the rule, but if it’s going to impact a couple teams during the season, you have to let it play out and potentially impact everyone throughout a full season. There’s no precedent I know of for changing rules mid-season in the NFL. Besides, there’s only 32 people who need to know and play by this rule and they should know better by now.

  12. hmswhitestar says: Nov 22, 2012 3:53 PM

    The penalty is much to harsh, the coach that does this should lose either a time out or a challenge, I really do not have a problem with the yardage, but I though that was really unfair the whole point of the replay is to make keep the integrity of the game. Also the 15 yard penalty was enough, it would have given the Texas a first down but not given them a touch down because the runner’s knee and elbow was clearly down.

  13. charlesanakin says: Nov 22, 2012 3:57 PM

    @Samuel- your logic is faulty. Take the example today. Had the erroneous call not wiped out the replay the Texans would have gotten 15 yds on the penalty and a 1st down but the TD would have been reversed, and thus no TD and no kickoff penalty.

  14. toneman1234 says: Nov 22, 2012 4:02 PM

    Schwartz throwing the flag was not due to “audacity.” It was due to stupidity. An NFL coach should know the rules. That’s on him.

  15. pravin68 says: Nov 22, 2012 4:04 PM

    1) Is there anything in the rule that prevents refs from huddling after the play to fix the call themselves? Automatic review gets nullified, but not ref huddles. I find it hard to believe not a single ref saw the elbow or knee down.
    2) How did refs miss BOTH the elbow and knee going down in the first place?
    3) Same refs missed a blow to head on Stafford after he already slid later in the game. You would think refs would give the benefit of doubt to Detroit on such a call considering how htey bungled the TD call.
    4) If they must have a dumb rule, just let it be a simple 15 yarder. If the call stands, then on the kickoff. If overruled, give Texans an extra 15 yards after the first spot.

  16. Samuel says: Nov 22, 2012 4:04 PM

    But let’s say on another play the touchdown does count. Then the 15 yard penalty doesn’t really punish. Maybe eliminating the team’s replay challenges for the rest of the game. Maybe that’s better. But 15 yards is not enough if the play resulted in a touchdown.

    And no, I am not a Texans fan. I just think that 15 yards isn’t enough if the opposition does end up getting a TD

  17. weatherbee2 says: Nov 22, 2012 4:05 PM

    In the Handshake game, after Harbaugh challenged a play that was not reviewable, Schwartz could be seen yelling, “Know the rule, Harbaugh!”
    I guess Scwartz needs to learn the rule.

  18. bills4 says: Nov 22, 2012 4:11 PM

    Brutal!!

  19. h0c2000 says: Nov 22, 2012 4:14 PM

    First thing I thought was don’t be an idiot Schwartz and throw the flag…

    We all know how the story ends.

    Sad when a guy on the couch knows the rule better than a head coach.

  20. shezbot says: Nov 22, 2012 4:16 PM

    As nightwing1985 pointed out – it happened with Colts/Packers and reported here to – (See PFT October 8/2012 – Bruce Arians I Threw the Red Flag Knowing I Couldn’t Challenge)

    What’s with the mass amnesia? (Probably Turkey coma)

  21. slugbaitspace says: Nov 22, 2012 4:16 PM

    Coaches abused the challenge flag. This rule was a direct result of that abuse. Get rid of the rule because of one specific play? You’re basically telling coaches they can abuse the challenge flag again. Um, no.

    Know the rules.

  22. rawhead08 says: Nov 22, 2012 4:17 PM

    It shouldn’t cost them the game like it is right now. That’s idiocy

  23. jcrileyesq says: Nov 22, 2012 4:17 PM

    KARMA… remember Schwartz mocked Harbaugh last year against the 49ers throwing the flag last year throw

  24. psykodabble says: Nov 22, 2012 4:20 PM

    This rule was a terrible idea to begin with and now we’ve seen how dangerous it can be in a nationally televised game. There is no delay to the game when a coach throws a flag on a play that’s already destined to be reviewed and the penalty is not only unnecessarily retributive and childish, but actively damages the integrity of the game.

    By rule, a coach could use this stupidity to trade 15 yards to avoid a review of a play he didn’t want reviewed. In this situation, for example, even if Schwartz hadn’t thrown his flag, Kubiak could have thrown his challenge flag, thereby canceling the review and guaranteeing that Forsett’s “touchdown” stood.

    Bad, bad rule. Needs to be changed immediately.

  25. louisianafootballfan says: Nov 22, 2012 4:21 PM

    The rule is absolutely stupid, but until they come up with something better it has to stay in place. If the Lions lose they have no one to blame but Jim Schwartz. It’s your job as HC to know the rules.

  26. psykodabble says: Nov 22, 2012 4:22 PM

    Here’s another perfect example happening as we speak. That ball was clearly not an interception as it hit the ground, however it was called an interception on the field. In order to avoid the review that will give possession back to the Lions, Kubiak can throw his flag here to preserve the bad call on the field. All it would cost him is 15 yards. It’s only a matter of time until a clever and evil coach uses this to his advantage.

  27. jimmylions says: Nov 22, 2012 4:24 PM

    I actually agree with toneman … Schwartz knows better. Also … he famously ripped Harbaugh for making the same error.

    But I also agree that the rule needs to be changed. If the play was due to be reviewed automatically, it should still get reviewed. The penalty could be a loss of the timeout as well as the 15 yards. That would be painful.

  28. buffalojill716 says: Nov 22, 2012 4:25 PM

    Anyone remember when Jim Harbaugh threw a flag on an auto-replay and got a 15 yard penalty? Against Jim Schwartz in the handshake heard round the world game?? Jim Schwartz was making fun of Harbaugh for throwing the flag and yelled ‘learn the rules.’ Smells like karma to me!

  29. ctsteelersfan says: Nov 22, 2012 4:25 PM

    Awful. Just awful rule. Lions have and refs must have money on texans.

  30. anonymouslyanonymouscommentor says: Nov 22, 2012 4:26 PM

    I agree with whoever said it should be changed at the end of the year. Have to have it for a full season at least to maintain consistency and the integrity of the rules. But it should be gone the day the season is over. Is there a way to enforce the 15 yards AFTER the kickoff?

  31. jimmylions says: Nov 22, 2012 4:41 PM

    They do enforce the 15 after the kickoff.

  32. FinFan68 says: Nov 22, 2012 4:44 PM

    How about just pick up the flag and tell the coach that the play is already being reviewed? Isn’t that what they do when they say stuff like the whistle blew? The NFL’s rules are written from a lawyer’s mentality. They try to fix a small problem and in the process they cause a HUGE problem. That is how the majority fans can’t say what is a catch, TD, interception or fumble anymore.

  33. primetime0552 says: Nov 22, 2012 4:45 PM

    @Jason Wilde…..the rule doesn’t make sense. it doesn’t give the booth anymore time to review the play. the extra point doesn’t happen until the official gets word that its under review or the play is good. so it doesn’t delay the game anymore than the game would already be delayed. the extra point does not happen until the official on the field gets the word and says its good to go……

  34. jetmetfan says: Nov 22, 2012 5:01 PM

    There should NEVER be a rule that allows an incorrect call to stand. Since touchdowns and turnovers are automatically reviewed there’s really no advantage gained from throwing the flag. When the coach throws it, just tell him to pick it up because the play is being reviewed anyway.

  35. coolzog says: Nov 22, 2012 5:14 PM

    Looks like the abberration of last season is over. The Lions can enjoy watching the playoffs at home again…good ol’ Thanksgiving day tradition.

  36. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Nov 22, 2012 5:23 PM

    It’s a given that this moronically conceived legislation needs to be amended to reflect some semblance of sanity.

    How about one step further? FIRE every clown who signed off on this thing. Who can possibly be this stupid? In most of our lines of work, idiocy of this caliber results in getting canned … IMMEDIATELY.

  37. firejc says: Nov 22, 2012 5:35 PM

    Throw the flag and penalize them the 15 yards, but still review the play.

    That’s what replay is all about attempting to right a wrong, so throw the flag and walk off the yardage but review the play.

  38. nickellbag says: Nov 22, 2012 5:47 PM

    The fault is all on Schwartz period. He doesn’t throw the flag, the call is reversed.

  39. jimmylions says: Nov 22, 2012 6:02 PM

    Question … if Gary Kubiak had thrown the flag, would the rule still prevent a review?

    The idea being that if it’s a questionable call and your team scores, it sounds like the way the rule is written means you could throw the challenge flag to prevent a review.

  40. stakex says: Nov 22, 2012 6:05 PM

    This is the most idiotic rule I’ve seen in any sport. So what if the coach throws a challanage flag when a challange was already coming? How does that slow the game down at all?

    I could see a fine for the coach, a loss of challange even if the play is reversed, and even a 15 yard penelty… but to not even look at the play because the coach throws the flag? That just doesn’t make sense, and is a rule that clearly prevents the integrity of the game from being maintained.

  41. thestrategyexpert says: Nov 22, 2012 6:17 PM

    Yeah it’s a stupid rule, but until the rule is changed the coach needs to be aware of how the rules work and play the rules to the team’s advantage and not the disadvantage. The Lions could be 11-0 right now as every game we lost we had enough potential to win, and every game we lost the weakest members of the team were non-players.

    Until the Lions get a strategy consultant or strategy manager to help out the coaches and take a load off of all of the little things that they can’t manage efficiently or even properly, then they aren’t ever going to be serious competitors. They are just too prone to making too many little mental mistakes and it’s the same list of complaints week in and week out. They need personnel to specialize and assist in all of these extra little things that keep getting missed or messed up on.

  42. blackandbluedivision says: Nov 22, 2012 6:18 PM

    You don’t reward someone while committing a penalty. A guy gets pass interference (offense) you don’t give them the yardage or TD and tack the yardage onto the kickoff or on first down. The idea is to stop a coach from throwing a flag on a play. 15 yards isn’t going to stop him. A coach will take the risk on a turnover just to get the ball. Same with a TD. The rules are there for a reason. I would complain if they didn’t automatically review it.

  43. blackandbluedivision says: Nov 22, 2012 6:21 PM

    Lions fans always blame a loss on refs. Get over it. Your coach doesn’t understand the rules. Your defense couldn’t stop Houston the rest of the game and your 90 year old kicker couldn’t kick a chip shot. Don’t blame the refs. Stop shooting yourself in the foot.

  44. wreckintexin says: Nov 22, 2012 6:22 PM

    the play should still be reviewed and only a 15 yard penalty assessed.

  45. larrydavidstern says: Nov 22, 2012 6:23 PM

    The only thing dumber than this rule, is the fact that the NFL will wait until the offseason to “review” it.

  46. wreckintexin says: Nov 22, 2012 6:24 PM

    having said that, who to say the Texans wouldn’t have scored anyways in a couple of plays after the penalty put them on the lions 40 or 30?

  47. vltrophy14 says: Nov 22, 2012 6:46 PM

    Week 1 or 2 McCarthy did the same thing & the Packers got a 15 yard penalty. Now the Lions fans know how us Packers fans felt in week 3 against Seattle. Besides the red flag rule another rule that NEEDS to go is the tuck rule.

  48. myopinionisrighterthanyours says: Nov 22, 2012 6:47 PM

    Simple solution. If a coach throws the flag on a play that will be reviewed, it counts as a lost challenge. Review the play anyway, and no matter the outcome, the coach who threw the flag delaying the game loses both a challenge and a TO.

  49. myopinionisrighterthanyours says: Nov 22, 2012 6:51 PM

    In this situation, for example, even if Schwartz hadn’t thrown his flag, Kubiak could have thrown his challenge flag, thereby canceling the review and guaranteeing that Forsett’s “touchdown” stood.

    ———————————————

    The play would still have been reviewed had Kubiak thrown it. Periera already had a column on this. The review is intended to punish the team that will benefit from the challenge. Besides, the coach has to state what he is challenging. What’s Kubiak going to say? I don’t think my own team scored a TD. The rule is incredibly stupid enough. Don’t make it worse by throwing things in that aren’t there.

  50. washstnative says: Nov 22, 2012 8:20 PM

    This is a rule more than likely written by a lawyer…

  51. kylefitta says: Nov 22, 2012 8:22 PM

    First and foremost, it should have never came down to a review because it was clear that his elbow was down. But ultimately, whether you agree with the rule or not, the blame has to be solely on the coach. It’s not like the NFL rules are hidden and locked in a vault. The coaches should know the rules of the game; if they don’t, it’s their fault – whether or not they agree rule is moot. They should know it.

  52. anythingbutyanks says: Nov 22, 2012 8:49 PM

    Does this mean that a coach for a team that scores could throw the red flag for a questionable touchdown in order to strategically eliminate the review, and simply accept the 15-yards as the consequence? Sure, the coach would be despised around the league, but say the opportunity came up in the AFC or NFC game and was the difference between losing or playing for a championship? Wouldn’t it be worth it? How long until a coach realizes this and decides to accept the risk? Yeah, I’d say this rule needs to be changed.

  53. richc111 says: Nov 22, 2012 11:30 PM

    It must drive the league up the wall to pay these guys $9,000 a game for this. Bring back the replacement refs!!!!!!

  54. purplengold says: Nov 22, 2012 11:56 PM

    15 yards is enough, you must review all plays to give credit where it belongs.

  55. txnative61 says: Nov 23, 2012 1:34 AM

    Play clock winds down—Flag, delay of game, 5 yard penalty. Coaches use challenges frivolously to gain advantage? Really?? They have a limited number each half, and should be able to use them up as they like, with loss of timeout as well if they lose. Duplicate an automatic: a 5 yard “delay”, loss of one challenge, and timeout if they lose—should be enough for using what they’re fully entitled to. I don’t even see it delaying the game since play is already stopped for the automatic. They just don’t like coaches challenging officials’ rulings.

  56. starderup says: Nov 23, 2012 4:08 AM

    It is a stupid rule and needs to be changed. The coach should also lose his next birthday.

  57. omniusprime says: Nov 23, 2012 9:18 AM

    A really ignorant rule, made by committee of course. Even if a team throws down a challenge flag when it isn’t supposed to on a play that results in a touchdown, since the touchdown is always reviewable this rule should never be enforceable. The team throwing the flag would never get an advantage when the play results in a touchdown, and the refs end up making a bad call even worse. Definitely the most stupid rule in pro football. Give the team the 15 yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff but let the review process do it’s job of getting bad calls overturned. That is the whole reason for the review process.

  58. houstontexan713281832 says: Nov 23, 2012 9:34 AM

    As you can tell by my name im a texans fan. I agree that its a bad rule but that being said its still a rule at the moment. As others have brought up Packers, falcons and schwartz himself have all seen this rule in effect, so it falls squarely on Jim Schwartz shoulders to know the rules of the game. Its easy to say call should have been made correctly on field after watching several slow motion replays on tv but the refs dont see in slow mo. After that TD texans are still down by 10pts, where was lions D? Lions allowed texans to get FG and go 97 yds to tie the game. Lions had their chances to put the texans away, but failed to do so. Lions shouldve played 60 mins of football and maybe outcome would have been different

  59. rogerbrad says: Nov 23, 2012 10:00 AM

    A rules is a rule is a rule…

    Such is the NFL

  60. mogogo1 says: Nov 23, 2012 11:08 AM

    myopinionisrighterthanyours says:
    Nov 22, 2012 6:51 PM
    In this situation, for example, even if Schwartz hadn’t thrown his flag, Kubiak could have thrown his challenge flag, thereby canceling the review and guaranteeing that Forsett’s “touchdown” stood.

    ———————————————

    The play would still have been reviewed had Kubiak thrown it. Periera already had a column on this. The review is intended to punish the team that will benefit from the challenge. Besides, the coach has to state what he is challenging. What’s Kubiak going to say? I don’t think my own team scored a TD. The rule is incredibly stupid enough. Don’t make it worse by throwing things in that aren’t there.

    _______________

    But there might be a time you would challenge if you scored a TD. Crazy example that could actually happen: Team has the ability to run out the clock holding a one-point lead. A questionable fumble occurs, the leading team recovers and a guy breaks free and scores. They could go up 8 with a made XP, but they’d be giving the ball back to the opponent with time left to march down and score and tie the game with a 2-point conversion. If the coach decided running out the clock was the safer option, he’d challenge even though they scored.

    Is Periera saying they’d only wipe out the review if they thought it was a frivolous challenge, but if they saw the benefit to wanting to keep the ball they’d then wipe out the review? It’s a horrible rule already, but if it is really worded making the officials judges over what the coach should be challenging, and set up to only wipe out the review in certain instances, its far worse yet.

  61. chattanola says: Nov 23, 2012 12:24 PM

    Integrity of the game? I thought that rules were to assure the integrity of the game. If all scoring plays are to be reviewed doesn’t all mean all.

    This is messed up.

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