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Extra Points: Schwartz proves to be Thanksgiving's biggest turkey

11:33 AM, Nov 23, 2012   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Jim Schwartz has been regarded as a pretty good coach in Detroit, the very definition of the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Schwartz arrived in the Motor City after a decade of Marty Mornhinweg, Steve Mariucci, Dick Jauron and Rod Marinelli, turning Marinelli's 0-16 embarrassment of 2008 into a playoff team by 2011.

Hindsight is now telling us that if you pick in the top five in the draft every season, you'll probably accumulate enough difference makers to make a postseason run every now and again. But, there will be no consistency with a mentor like Schwartz navigating an undisciplined mess.

Let's all agree to stipulate that Schwartz's latest mind-boggling episode as head coach of the Lions stemmed from a bad rule.

But let's also understand the same guy who once yelled at 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh to "know the rules" didn't seem all that well-versed in them in front of a nationally televised audience on Thanksgiving Day.

By now you all know Detroit held a 24-14 lead over Houston in the third quarter and was well on its way to halting an ugly eight-game Turkey Day losing streak when the Texans' Justin Forsett took a handoff and eventually raced 81 yards for a TD.

The play shifted momentum and for the second time in less than a week, the 10-1 Texans went on to win in overtime, pulling out a 34-31 win.

Problem is Forsett was clearly tackled after about eight yards with both his knee and forearm clearly hitting the ground. The whistles were silent, however, so Forsett got right back up and continued running all the way to the end zone.

It's possible referee Walt Coleman and his crew swiped some turkey before the game and the tryptophan in everyone's favorite Thanksgiving Day food caused a little drowsiness but this was an all-time stinker of a missed call.

Heck, the replacement officials responsible for Golden Tate's "game-winning touchdown catch" against the Packers earlier this season were laughing at this one while preparing for the big Mount Union-Johns Hopkins contest over the weekend.

Of course, as bad as it was, the miscue was also one which would have been easily correctable since all scoring plays are automatically reviewed.

Coleman and the review officials upstairs never got that chance, however, since Schwartz morphed into full fan mode, mindlessly tossing the challenge flag.

That results in a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and the automatic review being negated, meaning Forsett's non-touchdown was allowed to stand.

At the end of the day instant replay was designed and instituted to "get the play right" and that should be the prime directive of the program.

Even Mike Pereira, the former vice president of officiating for the NFL who now works for FOXSports, later ridiculed the rule on the Cowboys-Redskins telecast. And understand Pereira is a guy who generally throws out his back on a weekly basis while reaching to defend some of the most egregious calls you'll ever see.

All that said Schwartz has to keep his cool and not act like a guy who just downed his seventh Corona of the afternoon. He's the head coach of an NFL team and one who gets paid quite generously for his supposed expertise.

By throwing the challenge flag you can argue Schwartz was either ill-informed or incompetent -- there are no other explanations. He chose to bow at the altar of incompetence, preferring that to idiocy.

"Yeah, I know that rule," Schwartz said after the game. "You can't challenge a turnover or a scoring play and I overreacted. I was so mad that they didn't call him down cause he was obviously down on the field. I had the flag out of my pocket before he even scored the touchdown. That's all my fault. I overreacted in that situation and I cost us a touchdown."

Mea culpa aside, a sensible coach would have simply waited the two minutes and let the officials overturn a rather obvious mistake.

There are also no laws on the books that force you to lose after your head coach gift wraps seven points for the opposition, and the Lions certainly had plenty of chances to win after Schwartz's hiccup.

"We gotta make sure we hang together, continue to play tough, and we gotta play a little smarter, myself included," Schwartz understated.

Coleman probably remains public enemy No. 1 in Motown today but Lions fans need to know he's not the villain in this tragedy. He, more than anyone else, wishes he got the chance to correct a mortifying mistake.

Coleman never got the opportunity for the same reason the Lions are regarded as a talented, but undisciplined and underachieving bunch ... Jim Schwartz.

The Sports Network

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