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Mike McCarthy bailed out after challenge-flag error

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy tried to pull a Jim Schwartz on Sunday, but circumstances bailed him out.

McCarthy got very, very lucky during the third quarter of Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings when he threw an unfortunate challenge flag. Following a play where the officials ruled that wide receiver James Jones fumbled the ball on the goal line, McCarthy whipped out his flag in anger. We all know by now that's a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct because all turnovers automatically are reviewed.

McCarthy was penalized despite the best efforts of Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who picked up the flag and tried to hide it. But the penalty didn't matter much. The officials still reviewed the play and reversed the call to a touchdown for the Packers. The penalty yards were tacked on to the kickoff; no big deal.

A lot of Detroit Lions fans probably are wondering why the play was reviewed at all. On Thanksgiving, Schwartz threw a challenge flag in a similar circumstance, and officials announced the play could not be reviewed because the coach threw the flag. The difference in this case, as explained by referee Mike Carey: The replay official already had buzzed down to review the play before McCarthy threw his flag.

Got all that?

While the rules can be confusing and a little silly in these circumstances, the review got the play right. That matters most. It doesn't change the fact that McCarthy absolutely lost his composure and nearly made a huge mistake in a critical situation.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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