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Illegal Challenge Clarification: What Happened In Packers – Vikings Touchdown Review Call

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 30: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass the ball under pressure from Jared Allen #69 and Chad Greenway #52 of the Minnesota Vikings during the second quarter of the game on December 30, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien, Getty Images

NFL fans were once again puzzled on a strange illegal coach’s challenge call during Sunday’s Week 17 Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings game.

On Thanksgiving Day, as the football world watched and digested turkey, a Houston Texans touchdown run that should have been reviewed and overturned was never replayed because the Lions ‘illegally’ threw the challenge flag.

The explanation we got was that on a play that is going to be automatically reviewed (on a touchdown or turnover) a team cannot throw the red flag and challenge the play. If they do, they are penalized for misconduct and the play cannot be looked at again by officials.

In that case, although running back Justin Forsett should have been ruled down by contact, the refs never got to check and the TD stood.

The same thing happened when Packers coach Mike McCarthy threw the challenge flag on what should have been called a Green Bay touchdown.

What should have been a played that ended with a Packers touchdown, play continued with a loose ball recovered by Minnesota. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier argued with officials but referee Mike Carey said the officials’ replay buzzer was buzzed before McCarthy threw his challenge flag…!?!?!?

The play was reviewed and called a touchdown.

Green Bay was still assessed at 15 yard penalty, though.

So, apparently it matters when you throw your illegal challenge red flag. If you challenge a play, illegally, before the booth hits the buzzer for an official review, THEN the replay can be called off.

This is strange and confusing. Based on the rule we all learned about on Thanksgiving, this play should not have been reviewed and called a TD. But, it seems that the correct call on the field was made – unlike the Lions-Texans call.

Interestingly, there was talks after the Lions- Texans game that the league would meet and change this weird ‘illegal challenge’ thing – sometime in the off-season or prior to the playoffs – to ensure that the correct call on the field is made, in other words, it should have been a TD and was called as such.

Ultimately, Minnesota edged the Packers 37-34, clinching a playoff spot.

Black Monday: NFL Firings

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Lions-Texans Thanksgiving Day Illegal Challenge Play


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