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Lions' Jim Schwartz: Ref said I couldn't challenge play

Jim Schwartz said he was told during the Detroit Lions' 27-24 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals that he couldn't challenge an apparent forward lateral on a blocked field goal near the end of the first half.

"I thought it was a forward lateral, but the officials told me that didn't matter on a blocked kick, so decided not to challenge it," Schwartz said Sunday, per the Detroit Free Press. "They said that there's no such thing as a forward fumble on a blocked kick."

After gaining national attention last season for his illegal challenge on Thanksgiving Day, which ultimately led to a rule change, it's no surprise that Schwartz is a bit gun-shy on the red flag tossing.

After the blocked kick, it seemed clear that Bengals safety Reggie Nelson pitched the ball forward to Dre Kirkpatrick, who ran forward about 14 yards to Detroit's 40-yard line. Seven plays later, the Bengals scored a go-ahead touchdown prior to halftime.

In a statement to the Free Press, the NFL said the play was reviewable, citing Rule 15, Section 9, Article 4(d) of the Official Playing Rules, which applies to any runner not down by contact. The play being a blocked kick shouldn't have mattered.

The league did not acknowledge a forward lateral in this specific play, however. In the statement to the Free Press, it characterized Nelson's play as a fumble, which then was picked up and advanced by Kirkpatrick.

If a referee did tell Schwartz that he couldn't challenge the play, then the Lions coach has an issue to complain about to the league office. There also are two other options. Know the rules. Or -- just a suggestion -- don't get a kick blocked.

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