Enough is enough.
Sure, Jim Schwartz "broke" a rule by following his coaching instincts. Sure, many fans are now calling for Schwartz's head and blame the Thanksgiving Day collapse—a 34-31 home loss to the Texans in overtime—directly on him. For all the heat Schwartz is now receiving for throwing a challenge flag on a play that was automatically reviewed, causing his team to incur a penalty and lose the automatic review, one thing is surprisingly going unnoticed: the integrity of the game.
First, a brief review of what happened from SI.com's Tom Mantzouranis:
In the third quarter of the Lions-Texans Thanksgiving game, Texans back Justin Forsett ran up the gut for eight yards before being tackled by Lions defenders.
One problem, though: The refs didn’t see Forsett’s knee and elbow clearly hit the ground, and didn’t blow the play dead. Recognizing this, Forsett got up and kept running for an 81-yard touchdown (watch the run).
... Due to a rule that could at best be described as ridiculous, and at worst mind-bogglingly non-sensical, any time a coach challenges a play that would be automatically reviewed, not only is the team flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, but the automatic review is negated.
The result? Forsett’s touchdown was allowed to stand, narrowing the Lions’ lead at the time to 24-21 and sending the Detroit crowd into a furious frenzy.
First of all, the automatically reviewed scoring play is new to the 2012 NFL season. For all of those fans criticizing Schwartz for throwing the red flag, remember he was brought up to challenge ridiculous calls or no-calls, exactly what Justin Forsett's touchdown was.
Schwartz was obviously livid at the disgraceful attempt of officiating and did what was accepted for hundreds of football games, throw the red flag.
So for fans who fault Schwartz for doing a task that went from wildly accepted to suddenly rejected, grow up. He was simply concerned with getting the correct call and scenario for his football team.
Schwartz was actually punished for ensuring that his football team got the correct call. How flawed is that? He was simply concerned that the referee made up for one of the worst non-calls in NFL history, and his football team suffered.
The NFL should be embarrassed with this complete failure displayed to a national audience. Other than the Super Bowl, Thanksgiving day football attracts a lot of viewers who normally wouldn't watch football, and the NFL completely embarrassed itself.
The league is more concerned with strict rule following than making the correct call. Granted, the Forsett touchdown didn't directly lead to a Houston Texan win, but the refs just gave the points away. Just handed them over.
The league should be making efforts to improve the fairness and quality of the game. In this situation, Schwartz looks like a fool and some fans want him gone.
That thinking is completely flawed because any human being with vision saw that Forsett was down. All of America did. And the Detroit Lions got punished for trying to ensure that the hideous officiating got corrected? What a shame.
The referee's should be put into a position to make sure the proper call is made. They are human and make mistakes, but a silly rule should never interfere with the integrity of the game.
That's exactly what happened. A simple rule, which is a new rule, interfered with the quality of a football game. The entire country knew that Forsett was down, as did Forsett, but the league tried proving a point by not allowing the play to be reviewed. Well, the league certainly got its point across.
On a day where an abundance of thankful and blessed people tuned into some NFL action, common sense was overruled for the sake of a rule.
The flawed sequence gave the Texans points and they eventually won the game. The Lions absolutely should have closed out the game and had chances to win, but they were absolutely ripped off of points. As a consequence, their playoff aspirations are just about dead and their coach is on the hot seat, for trying to protect his football team.
For those out there mad at Schwartz, shame on you. Sure, he should have kept his flag in his pocket, but his No. 1 priority was the correct terrible officiating.
The league should be embarrassed that their strict and uptight rules interfered with the integrity of the game and that an entire nation witnessed that the political side of the game was deemed more important than the quality.
And it's a shame.