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NFL passes Jim Schwartz rule

Greg Gautreaux, Jim Schwartz

Field judge Greg Gautreaux (80) hands the red challenge flag back to Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz in the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans at Ford Field in Detroit, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. Houston won 34-31 in overtime. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)


NFL coaches who wrongly throw a challenge flag for a replay review that was going to be conducted automatically will no longer cost their team the opportunity to have the play reviewed.

The NFL’s owners today voted to change the instant replay rules so that if a play is going to be reviewed automatically (such as a scoring play, a turnover or a play in the last two minutes of a half or in overtime), the referee will proceed in reviewing the play regardless of whether or not a coach throws a red flag.

The rule has commonly been referred to as the “Jim Schwartz rule” after the Lions coach who found out the hard way on Thanksgiving that throwing the challenge flag negated the referee’s automatic review. The rule cost the Lions dearly in their loss to the Texans, as Houston was awarded an 81-yard touchdown run even though running back Justin Forsett was clearly down after seven yards.

Schwartz said after the game that he knew the rule but was caught up in the emotions of seeing an obviously wrong call go against his team, in the future, those obviously wrong calls will be reviewed, even if a coach throws his flag.