FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons coach Mike Smith and Lions coach Jim Schwartz should have known they would be penalized by throwing challenge flags when they couldn’t under the rules.
But should that mean they also lose the ability for those plays to be reviewed by the replay official? That’s what happened to Smith in a game against the Cardinals on Nov. 18 and to Schwartz during a game against the Texans on Nov. 20.
The referee might have overturned on review what was ruled a fumble recovered by Arizona. The referee almost certainly would have ruled that Texans running back Justin Forsett was down well before he ran for an 81-yard touchdown.
McKay said situations like those of Smith and Schwartz could influence the committee to at least take another look at rules that call for a team that commits a penalty before the next snap to lose the right to challenge the next play.
“Any time you have big plays in a season, it usually creates the discussion, but it doesn’t mean it creates a change,” McKay said. “Because the one thing you are always paying attention to in the rules business is what are the unintended consequences of a change.”
It’s clear enough that coaches are not allowed to challenge plays that are automatically reviewed by the replay official, after the two-minute warning or in overtime or if the team does not have any timeouts remaining. Included among the plays that are automatically reviewed are scores, interceptions and fumbles recovered by an opponent
The rule book also states: “If there is a foul that delays the next snap, the team committing that foul will no longer be able to challenge the previous ruling.”
If a team commits a foul that delays the next snap, “the replay official cannot initiate a review that would benefit” that team and it is penalized 15 yards. If the replay official had initiated a review before the coach throws the challenge flag, the referee will review the play, but the coach is still assessed a 15-yard penalty.
McKay said that ruling was adopted in 2011 after teams purposely delayed the next snap by committing a penalty in the hopes that it would allow more time for the replay official to initiate a review.
“The appearance of it is you are being Draconian because you are being penalized two ways,”McKay said. “But the reasoning behind it is no one wanted to present a situation where you could benefit by creating a foul.”
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