Jim Schwartz: I overreacted by throwing challenge flag

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During the game that ended with a near fight following the postgame handshake last year, Lions coach Jim Schwartz yelled at 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh to “know the rules” when Harbaugh tried to challenge a play that wasn’t reviewable.

That episode wasn’t on Schwartz’s mind Thursday when he threw a challenge flag after Texans running back Justin Forsett’s 81-yard touchdown run in the second half of what became a 34-31 overtime loss for the Lions. Forsett was clearly down before sprinting for a touchdown, but the officials missed it. Schwartz said after the game that he knows the rule forbidding challenges on touchdowns and turnovers, but threw the flag anyway because he was mad about that call and about a first half challenge that he felt the Lions should have won.

“Yeah, I know that rule,” Schwartz said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “You can’t challenge a turnover or a scoring play and I overreacted. I was so mad that they didn’t call him down ’cause he was obviously down on the field. I had the flag out of my pocket before he even scored the touchdown. That’s all my fault. I overreacted in that situation and I cost us a touchdown.”

By throwing the challenge flag, Schwartz guaranteed that the play wouldn’t be reviewed which let an obviously blown call by the officials stand. It’s a bad rule, but, as Schwartz said, it is one the coach knew and one he has to keep in mind during the heat of the action. It’s not hard to draw a line from that lack of discipline to the lack of discipline his team has shown on the field far too often in the last few years.

But it’s a bit harder to directly connect the dots from that call to the Lions’ loss. Detroit had chances to win the game after the call and they weren’t able to capitalize on them. Two sacks knocked them out of field goal range on two different drives, Jason Hanson missed a field goal in overtime and the defense allowed the Texans to tie the game with a touchdown at the end of a 15-play, 97 yard drive in the fourth quarter.

That doesn’t make the errors by the officials or Schwartz any less egregious, but the Lions can’t just blame the refs for costing them a game.

48 responses to “Jim Schwartz: I overreacted by throwing challenge flag

  1. No, you didn’t cost your team a TD. The stupid rules and blind refs cost you a TD.

    Coaches should be coaching, not worrying about micromanaging idiotic rule books.

  2. I think the national media has blamed the loss more on the officials than the lions have. The fact is, you cant let Andre Johnson get 3 first downs on the 15 play scoring drives when the situation was, 3rd and 8, 4th and 7, and 3rd and 10. You stop Andre on any one of those plays and the Lions win

  3. Are you crazy? Aside from the Forsett play, there was the blown call on the punt that Schwartz mentioned and the helmet to helmet on Stafford that was missed. The Houston Texans don’t sniff a win if it’s not for egregious officiating.

  4. Lions had plenty of opportunities to win that game. It was as if they were scared of victory. Like they felt as if they weren’t worthy of being victorious over a team like the Texans. They gave the Texans that win. It was unbelievable.Actually very similar to how my Raiders have been playing the last decade(minus the Hue Jackson years)

  5. Just another bizarre situation that leads to another Lions loss. This is a team that clearly gets conservative when the game is on the line and lacks a killer instinct. Jim Schwartz at this point in his tenure with the Lions still hasn’t instilled this attitude in his team. Wait til next year………

  6. I don’t like the rule and I hope they get rid of it next season. However for not it is there. Coach Schwartz admitted that he knew about the rule.

    So basically Coach Schwartz didn’t cost his team 7 points. He cost them the game.

    He cost them the game because he lost what self control that he had. They say that a team reflects its coach. Now maybe we are seeing why several people on that team have very little self control.

    I do feel bad for the that team. They deserved that win. They left everything on the field yesterday. For the most part, they played a masterful game. I was hooting and hollering for them even though I’m not a Lions fan. It’s a damn shame that their coach can’t control himself and instead did something so damn stupid.

  7. God what an idiotic rule. In his defense also you watch that play and it doesn’t look like a “scoring” play. It’s in the middle of the field in a pile. I bet half the coaches in the league throw the flag on that play.

  8. Also, the irony of this is that the reason they didn’t call him down is because they have replay to check themselves. 20 years ago he’s called down no question.

  9. I think the refs did the right thing. If they weren’t sure, why not let the touchdown go because you know it’s an automatic review? It’s not their fault schwartz can’t control himself.

    If they had blown the play dead and it turned out his knee/arm hadn’t touched the ground they would have cost a touchdown that couldn’t be corrected by a review. The refs have incorrectly blown plays dead too early before. It’s a better precaution to let it play out because you can take the touchdown away after review. You can’t give one back if you called it too early.

  10. I find it ironic that this is the same guy who was caught mouthing “know the rules” to Harbaugh after he had thrown a flag when he wasn’t allowed to do so.

  11. Bad officiating…maybe the lions still lose with the right calls on the TD & the punt…maybe not.
    The main difference I see in these refs opposed to the replacements is that the game flows smoother.
    But these guys are making the same bad calls that they were crying about the replacements making.

    No accountability.

  12. Schwartz shouldn’t have thrown the flag but the rule is stupid and may actually not have been applied correctly in this case.

    The rulebook (p89) states: “He [replay official] must initiate a review before the next legal snap or kick and cannot initiate a review of any ruling against a team that commits a foul that delays the next snap.”

    What foul delayed the next snap? The next snap can’t happen until the review (of the scoring play) is complete and the referee is informed that the play is confirmed or needs further review. The game clock is stopped and the play clock is stopped so there really is no delay at all. The next play can only start after the referee places the ball and declares the next play (untimed down in this case) ready to proceed.

    Rulings are NEVER for or “against” a team. They are made based upon what the officials believe happened on a given play. The review process is supposed to ensure the correct call is made by comparing how the play was officiated real-time vs. what actually happened as seen during the review.

    Based on the wording of the rule and how the league/analysts etc. have interpreted it, no scoring play or turnover play can ever be reviewed if a penalty occurred (including post possession change penalties) That is absurd and cannot possibly be the intent of the rule.

  13. this rule has to change. you can give a 15 yard unsportsmanlike to the coach who throws the red flag, but don’t award 7 points to the other team in the name of officiating petulance.

  14. what the league needs to do is tweek the rule to where if the replay shows a runner is down or he steps out of bounds on a play like that,an unsportsman like conduct penalty should be marked from where the guy was down at! no way can that awful call by the refs be allowed to stand in all fairness! and i saw that same play happen in other games when the coaches threw a flag during a scoring play and the refs did’nt call a penalty!

  15. Bad calls happen every game. Lions had plenty of chances to put the texans away after a bad call, but their D didnt do its job. Neither did the offense that allowed some costly sacks and fumble in OT.

  16. Horrible rule. Change it to 15yd unsportsmanlike + $50K fine. That’ll get the coaches attention. Remember when they used to throw the red flag to yell at officials? Can’t go back to that

    Horrible coach. Team has your identity….no discipline and no killer instinct. His smugness & hyper sensitivity (chasing Harbaugh) makes him even less likable.

    Why doesn’t Gruden want this team?

  17. Finfan you are misinterpreting the rule you quoted. That rule prevents a replay from occurring if per say a defensive lineman were to jump offside before the challenge was thrown. You can’t delay the next snap for your booth coaches to get a better look at the previous play. The rule that applied in this game is new this year (but still assanine). When Scwarttz threw the challenge flag on a play that is automatically reviewed he committed an unsportsmanlike act. Once that foul is called his team can not benefit from a review of the previous play thus it cancelled the automatic review. I think the 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty is enough, doubling it by taking away the review seems a little harsh to me. In the end you should still strive to get the call correct!

  18. Stupid rule, but even stupider on the coach’s part to know the rule and still throw the flag! Not sure it mattered the way Houston was moving the ball it would have just been a couple more plays, they were getting 7 there.

  19. I saw it live and I can tell you for sure that when watching full speed:
    1- it wasn’t at all clear that he was down
    2- all the Lions gave up early on the play without a whistle

    the refs used to blow it dead way to quick and us fans moaned about exciting plays getting blown dead…

    so now the NFL told them to wait for the play to be clearly over before blowing the whistle…. which is a much better game to watch….

    we fans can’t have it both ways….

    and the coach is responsible to know the rules…

    the refs got this 100% right… and Schwartz cost his team 7 points and the game……

  20. There were to many other blown calls that went the Texans way to just focus on that one but that one was one of the more egregious.

  21. It was good of him to man up like that. A lot of folks would just blame the refs and the NFL.

    Hopefully the NFL will change the rule. Maybe count it as a challenge with the chance the challenging team looses their timeout or something.

  22. Seems like a stupid rule to me

    Seems like a stupid rule to me. Ok, penalize the Lions, but you can’t allow that TD to stand; that’s plain ridiculous.

  23. After the botched review on the punt that would have put the Lions in position to score, I can see why he threw the challenge flag. The refs would have reviewed the play and called it a TD anyway, they obviously were not going to admit that they were wrong.

  24. The Mayhew/Schwartz era began with guarded optimism and some reason to believe that Schwartz’s tutelage under successful head coaches in New England and Tennessee would lead to an era of respectable if not elite play. For most Lion fans, the 2012 season has erased that hope and brought us back to that weird, conflicted place, visited most recently during the Morningwheg and Marinelli regimes, where we maintain a sliver of hope that the team will succeed while wondering what further evidence is necessary for management to realize that it’s time to start looking for the next guy. Again.

  25. And the best refs they have are calling these high profile games. Hmmmmmm. I think they should bring back the fill in refs!

  26. I got no sympathy for Schwartz, or the Lions. Suh is an embarrassment. He and Schwartz have no respect for the game. The only guy I feel bad for is Johnson, he deserves better

  27. Lions football. Creatively entertainingly always finding a way to lose. “but threw the flag anyway because he was mad about that call and about a first half challenge that he felt the Lions should have won.”

    Thank you,
    The Rest of the NFC North

  28. What I don’t understand is why is it not a deterrant enough for a coach to lose the challenge and timeout if he throws the challenge? I actualy dont think even a 15 yard penalty is appropriate , let alone canceling the review. If a coach is throwing a flag when he doesnt have to, the spirit of the rulin should be “OK dumbass, you just wasted a timeout and challenge you didnt need to use, so we will use it instead of the automatic review.” Why is that not punishment enough? It is like someone paying for two sub sandwiches when you get have a buy one get one free offer. Do you not give him even a single sandwich or would you rather he be taught a lesson by letting him pay for both sandwiches?

  29. Worst coach in the league. Biggest putz in the league. Dirtiest and most devilish team in the league. It’s too bad…toobad for Detroit a great city of fans.

  30. The rule is stupid but how about settling for a 47 yd FG on 3rd down at the end of the game. Run a slant to your behemoth WR and he gains at least 6 yds and then have your kicker attempting an easier FG. That’s just playing scared and that proves he has to go

  31. Whether or not he knew THAT rule, he should certainly have known that EVERY scoring play automatically gets reviewed. No need to toss the red flag in the first place.

  32. The point is, it wasn’t a touchdown and the Texans shoudn’t have made it to overtime. It cost the Lions the game. The sloppy refs also missed the call on the challenge by Detroit. I would fire the ref who called that one.

  33. You are assuming that with no TD on that play that the texans still wouldnt have scored. You are also assuming that the Lions hold the texans to no pts rest of game or atleast not enough to win. Texans moved the ball well in 2nd half so you can speculate what may have happened with no TD but nothing is certain. All the lions had to do was stop Texans from going 97 yds in 4th for TD to tie game…which didnt happen. Also convert on 3rd down(which they failed to do twice) in 4th or atleast dont give up the sack to knock you out of FG range.

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