McCarthy's challenge didn't hurt his team the way Schwartz's did

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 31, 2012 - 1:28 AM

Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy reacted to a Packers penalty call in the third quarter Sunday at Mall of America Field.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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Note to all NFL head coaches: If a play ends with a turnover or a touchdown, keep your red challenge flag to yourself.

It's a lesson Green Bay's Mike McCarthy learned Sunday -- though with a much less harmful consequence than Detroit's Jim Schwartz experienced last month when an odd and obscure league rule entered the national consciousness.

There were 2 minutes, 4 seconds left in the third quarter Sunday when Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers hit James Jones with an apparent 8-yard touchdown pass. Only Jones lost the ball as he dived across the goal line. And the initial ruling from officials was a fumble recovered by the Vikings.

So then the chaos elevated. The replay official immediately buzzed referee Mike Carey to initiate an automatic review. And within a few seconds, McCarthy threw his red challenge flag. That, of course, is an unnecessary action and drew a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"Emotional decision by me," McCarthy explained. "I shouldn't have done it."

Yet because McCarthy's red flag flew after Carey had been buzzed from upstairs, the referees were allowed by rule to continue reviewing the play. And eventually, the review correctly overturned the fumble, turned it into a touchdown and resulted in the 15-yard penalty being assessed on the ensuing kickoff.

On Thanksgiving, Schwartz's unnecessary throw of his challenge flag on what was erroneously ruled an 81-yard touchdown run by Houston's Justin Forsett came before a replay official buzzed down to initiate automatic review. So, by NFL rules, the penalty assessed against the Lions took away the opportunity for replay review in a game Detroit lost 34-31.

Angry reaction

The Vikings' anger and confusion during that sequence was obvious. Coach Leslie Frazier was animated as he tried to block Carey's path to the replay hood. General Manager Rick Spielman ran down to the press box during the sequence to gather an explanation from an NFL official.

Said defensive end Jared Allen: "Anger. Straight anger. You're telling me that they buzzed him too early so it's not a penalty? ... You've got precedent set and you don't follow precedent. It is what it is."

'Sack daddy' times 3

Everson Griffen had reason to break out "Sack Daddy," his trademarked celebratory dance, three times. With a trio of sacks on Rodgers, Griffen continued a remarkable late-season surge. He finished the regular season with eight quarterback takedowns.

"Oh man, it's amazing how we are playing," Griffen said. "With everybody stepping up on every different level."

Second chances

Michael Jenkins heard the fireworks explode above his head. They had gone off prematurely with stadium personnel thinking the receiver had hauled in a 12-yard touchdown pass from Christian Ponder with 9:35 to play. But Ponder's throw was a bit wide, and when Jenkins hit the ground with it, the ball popped out for an incompletion.

Said Jenkins: "I was a little sick. ... I heard the boom. And I was like, 'No! No! Don't shoot that off.' But I was glad I was able to make up for it."

He made up for it with a diving 3-yard TD catch four snaps later.

Jenkins wasn't the only one with such a drastic emotional swing. Adrian Peterson almost lost a fumble with 6:11 left in the third quarter. But a replay review ruled Peterson was down by contact before losing the ball. On the next play, a second-and-27 from the Packers 35-yard line, Peterson uncorked a 28-yard run for a first down.

Winfield reinjured

Antoine Winfield tried to play through the pain. But with a broken bone in his right hand that quickly swelled again in the first half, he had to leave the game for good.

"I really didn't have too much power in it," he said. "There wasn't much I could do."

Winfield sat and Marcus Sherels took his place as nickel back, a tough transition that burned the Vikings at times, most notably when Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson for a 73-yard gain in the third quarter.

Winfield said he struggled sitting out in a game so meaningful and vowed to play Saturday. "I'll definitely withstand the pain," he said. "I can still tolerate some pain. But it was a little rough today."


• The Vikings added to a historic season with their ground attack. Peterson supplied 199 of the team's 217 rushing yards in the finale. As a team, the Vikings ran for 2,634 yards this season, tying the franchise mark set in 2007, Peterson's rookie season.

• Peterson's rushing average of 6.026 yards per carry for a season ranks fourth-best in NFL history with 250 minimum attempts. Cleveland's Jim Brown has the record at 6.4 in 1963, followed by Detroit's Barry Sanders at 6.1 in 1997 and Buffalo's O.J. Simpson at 6.033 in 1973.

• The Vikings increased their win total by seven this season, the biggest season-to-season jump in franchise history. That was set in 1998, when the Vikings went 15-1 after a 9-7 campaign in '97.

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Tampa 1 Top 7th Inning
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 84 4th Qtr 3:39
Chicago 80
Cleveland 2:30 PM
Golden State 5:00 PM
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Portland 5:00 PM
Charlotte 5:00 PM
Oklahoma City 5:30 PM
LA Lakers
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Los Angeles 3:00 PM
Tampa Bay 4:00 PM
Columbus 4:00 PM
Toronto 6:00 PM
Anaheim 7:00 PM
St. Louis 8:30 PM
SMU 26 2nd Half 20:00
Connecticut 32
Quinnipiac 35 2nd Half 18:33
Manhattan 41
Fairfield 32 2nd Half 18:55
Niagara 29
Marist 28 2nd Half 16:41
Rider 28
Iona 34 2nd Half 16:30
Saint Peters 42
Oregon State 4 1st Half 15:01
California 9
South Florida 3 1st Half 15:00
Houston 12
Marquette 2:30 PM
Michigan State 3:00 PM
Siena 3:30 PM
Pittsburgh 5:30 PM
Wake Forest
Oregon 6:00 PM
Purdue 6:30 PM
Ohio State
Arizona State 7:30 PM
Washington St 8:30 PM
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 32 2nd Half 17:15
Massachusetts 43
Richmond 20 2nd Half 18:19
VA Commonwealth 28
Davidson 25 2nd Half 15:03
Fordham 36
St Bonaventure 27 2nd Half 14:26
Duquesne 36
George Mason 24 2nd Half 17:01
(22) George Washington 53
Indiana 30 2nd Half 14:27
(20) Rutgers 41
(12) Texas A&M 35 2nd Half
LSU 47
Ole Miss 23 2nd Half 16:05
(11) Miss State 35
Clemson 40 2nd Half 13:51
Pittsburgh 36
Maine 36 2nd Half 11:20
New Hampshire 40
Vermont 22 2nd Half 20:00
Albany 30
Quinnipiac 40 2nd Half 19:19
Monmouth 24
Saint Peters 33 2nd Half 14:37
Siena 37
(4) Notre Dame 41 2nd Half 15:33
NC State 35
Wisconsin 38 2nd Half 15:38
Penn State 34
Stony Brook 24 2nd Half 16:39
Hartford 28
Northeastern 24 2nd Half 14:07
William & Mary 41
St Johns 39 2nd Half 13:47
Xavier 41
James Madison 45 2nd Half 14:14
Delaware 48
Towson 0 1st Half 20:00
Drexel 0
Illinois State 0 1st Half 20:00
Bradley 0
Southern Ill 0 1st Half 20:00
Loyola-Chicago 0
Northern Iowa 0 1st Half 20:00
Wichita State 0
Minnesota 2 1st Half 14:44
(17) Iowa 15
(15) North Carolina 9 1st Half 15:33
(16) Duke 5
Alabama 11 1st Half 13:50
Auburn 9
(9) Florida State 4 1st Half 17:20
Miami-Florida 3
Arkansas 8 1st Half 12:34
Missouri 10
Georgia 3 1st Half 14:27
Florida 9
Dayton 0 1st Half 20:00
Saint Louis 0
Drake 8 1st Half 17:06
Missouri State 7
Colorado 3:00 PM
(10) Arizona State
(19) Stanford 3:00 PM
Marquette 3:00 PM
Southern Miss 3:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Vanderbilt 4:00 PM
(6) Tennessee
(2) South Carolina 4:00 PM
(13) Kentucky
Utah 4:00 PM
Ohio State 4:00 PM
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