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    Notes: NFL to reexamine rule that cost Lions

    An illegal challenge by coach Jim Schwartz played a big role in the Lions’ loss Thursday.
    leon halip/getty images
    An illegal challenge by coach Jim Schwartz played a big role in the Lions’ loss Thursday.

    The rule that negated using video replay to confirm a Texans touchdown on Thursday ‘‘may be too harsh’’ and will be reexamined immediately, NFL director of football operations Ray Anderson said Friday.

    Anderson, also cochairman of the competition committee that suggests rules changes to the owners, said a change could come this year. The NFL traditionally resists changing rules during a season.

    ‘‘We will certainly discuss the rule with the competition committee members, as we do all situations involving unique and unusual circumstances, and determine if we feel a change should be recommended to ownership,’’ Anderson said in a statement.


    ‘‘Not being able to review a play in this situation may be too harsh, and an unintended consequence of trying to prevent coaches from throwing their challenge flag for strategic purposes in situations that are not subject to a coaches’ challenge.’’

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    Anderson added the NFL is not bound by past events when a rule is proved to have loopholes, and that a 15-yard penalty for throwing the challenge flag on a play that is automatically reviewed might be enough. For now, throwing the challenge flag also eliminates the use of replay. All scoring plays otherwise are reviewed.

    Justin Forsett’s third-quarter, 81-yard run in the Texans’ 34-31 overtime victory at Detroit initially was ruled a touchdown, although replays clearly showed his knee and elbow touched the turf when he was hit by defenders. Detroit coach Jim Schwartz challenged, resulting in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and the negated use of video replay.

    ‘‘I overreacted,’’ Schwartz acknowledged. ‘‘And I cost us.’’

    In 2011, instant replay rules were changed to have the replay official initiate a review of all scoring plays. The rule stated that a team is prevented from challenging a play if that team commits a foul that prevents the next snap, or if a challenge flag is thrown when an automatic review would take place. A 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty is assessed as well as the elimination of the replay review for the play.


    But, as Anderson noted, getting the calls right is paramount and that the league may have overlooked the scenario that occurred in Detroit.

    Anderson also said the play in which Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh kicked Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin will be reviewed. He called the play ‘‘out of the ordinary.’’ Suh could face a suspension if he is found to have intentionally kicked Schaub.

    In case of emergency

    Nursing two broken ribs, Tim Tebow would’ve only played in an emergency Thursday night, according to Jets coach Rex Ryan — and a 49-19 blowout loss to the Patriots didn’t qualify.

    The Jets found out two days before the game that Tebow’s sore ribs were actually fractured when results from an MRI exam and CT scan were released. Tebow was active for the game, but Ryan kept him on the sideline.

    ‘‘I think people have played with cracked ribs,’’ Ryan said during a conference call. ‘‘Guys have played, and it was told to me that he could play. But I wasn’t going to play him unless it was an absolute emergency and that was when I would play him. It was never told to me that he could not play. In fact, it was just the opposite.’’


    Ryan made Tebow active for Thursday’s game after speaking with him, and having the quarterback undergo a pregame evaluation. Tebow also refused any pain-killing injections before the game.

    ‘‘He absolutely 100 percent could’ve played in that game,’’ Ryan said.

    Ryan said he ‘‘considered’’ making quarterback Greg McElroy active against the Patriots, and the third-stringer was warming up vigorously about an hour before kickoff.

    Ryan would only say that ‘‘we’ll see how the week progresses’’ as to whether McElroy might be the backup instead of Tebow in the team’s next game against Arizona on Dec. 2.

    Optimistic on Cutler

    The status of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler remains uncertain because of a concussion, although coach Lovie Smith said he is optimistic about Cutler’s return. Cutler is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Vikings. Whether he plays hinges on passing a test from an independent neurologist Saturday. Cutler on Friday went through a second straight limited practice session . . . The Vikings will likely be without wide receiver Percy Harvin again this weekend because of his sprained left ankle. Harvin, listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game at Chicago, tried to test his foot with some pre-practice work Friday, but coach Leslie Frazier said he couldn’t put much weight on it.

    Polamalu on field

    For the first time in seven weeks, Troy Polamalu was on the practice field with the Steelers. The four-time All-Pro safety has played in only five quarters this season because of a strained right calf, and had not practiced since Oct. 5. Polamalu, however, was limited in Friday’s practice and is considered doubtful to play Sunday against Cleveland . . . Browns cornerback Joe Haden said he is ‘‘90 percent’’ recovered from a strained abdominal muscle and will play against the Steelers. Cleveland is 0-5 this year when Haden has been out. Cornerback Buster Skrine said he intends to play after sustaining a concussion against Dallas last Sunday.

    No call yet by 49ers

    Jim Harbaugh expects Alex Smith (concussion) to be medically cleared to play by Saturday. Still, the 49ers coach did not announce who will start at quarterback against the Saints in two days. Harbaugh refuted reports earlier this week that he already has told Smith and Colin Kaepernick that Kaepernick will start for a second straight game . . . Packers wideout Greg Jennings, who has missed the last six games with a lower abdominal muscle tear, is questionable but said he is playing on Sunday night against the Giants . . . The Saints should have Darren Sproles back after the running back missed three games while recovering from surgery to repair a broken hand. Sproles is probable . . . According to, Texans linebacker Brooks Reed will be out 3-4 weeks after injuring his groin Thursday against the Lions . . . The Chargers placed left tackle Jared Gaither on injured reserve, ending an unproductive season for a player expected to shore up a shaky offensive line . . . Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma expressed disappointment that the new schedule for bounty hearings virtually prevents him from being able to personally confront his accusers. Vilma wanted to be present for witness interviews with former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and former defensive assistant Mike Cerullo, who assisted the NFL’s investigation into the Saints cash-for-hits pool. According to documents obtained by the Associated Press, the NFL is responsible for producing Cerullo in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the same day the Saints play in Atlanta. Williams is scheduled to appear Friday morning. The schedule was set by former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who was appointed to oversee the latest round of appeal hearings in the matter.