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NFL executive promises challenge rule will be changed

Ray Anderson, the NFL's vice president of football operations, vowed that the NFL competition committee would review the challenge rule that played a major role in the Detroit Lions' 34-31 overtime loss to the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving Day.

Anderson went a step further Wednesday, promising that the rule would be fixed before the 2013 season, The Associated Press reported.

During the Thanksgiving game, replays clearly showed that Texans running back Justin Forsett's knee touched the turf upon being hit by Lions defenders. Referees missed the call in real time, rewarding Forsett with an 81-yard touchdown.

Jim Schwartz's knee-jerk reaction was to throw the challenge flag even though scoring plays automatically are reviewed. The Lions were not only punished with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty, but they also were prevented from reviewing the touchdown on replay.

Anderson acknowledges that the priority is to get the call right. While the competition committee might opt to keep the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the infraction should not wipe out any chance of reviewing a potentially game-changing play.

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Other changes to be considered by the competition committee, according to CBSSports.com's Clark Judge, include a so-called "Jim Harbaugh rule," which would prevent coaches from wandering onto the field. The committee also is looking into instituting a more proactive supervision of playing surfaces in an effort to curb poor field conditions similar to ones seen at the Washington Redskins' much-derided FedEx field.

One of the NFL's overlooked strengths is its willingness to constantly tweak rules to benefit the fans, separating it from the foot-dragging leadership of Major League Baseball.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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