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Mike Smith wipes out review by throwing red flag

Josh Freeman, Bill Vinovich

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) talks to NFL refereeBill Vinovich during an NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)


For weeks, NBC officiating consultant Jim Daopoulos has been explaining in the NBC viewing room that, if a coach throws the red challenge flag under circumstances where a review would be initiated by the replay assistant, the team that throws the red flag incurs an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty -- and the replay review won’t happen at all.

That’s exactly what happened in Atlanta today.

After a fumble by Falcons running back Jason Snelling that was bouncing out of bounds before being thrown back in by Cardinals defensive back Greg Toler and recovered by Arizona, Falcons coach Mike Smith threw the red flag.

Because the red flag was thrown before the replay process was initiated, referee Bill Vinovich explained that the Falcons would be penalized, and that the review wouldn’t occur at all.

It looked close; arguably, there was insufficient evidence to overturn the call on the field. But the question became moot, given that Smith threw the red flag when he should have kept it in his pocket.