During the Nov 22, 2012 Detroit Lions/Houston Texans game, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz challenged a scoring play where the runner appeared to be down by contact. Since scoring plays are automatically reviewed, Schwartz was correctly penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. However, it does not appear there was any review of the play at all. What exactly happened, and why?
- A coaches' challenge is not permitted on scoring plays.
- Initiating a challenge when one is not permitted to do so is a foul.
On a scoring play, the replay official may initiate a review except when the team that the referees ruled against commits a foul that delays the next snap.
The illegal challenge by the coach was such a foul. Therefore, the disputed touchdown ruling could not be reviewed.
See NFL Rulebook rule 15 section 9.
Houston RB Justin Forsett touched the field (knee and elbow) and should have been called down. The play would have been reviewed, as are all scoring plays, and the ruling on the field would have been overturned.
Because Schwartz threw the challenge flag on a play he couldn't challenge by rule, the play could no longer be reviewed. Instead, The ruling on the field stands and the offending team also gets a 15 yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
That's the rule.