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Challenge Flag Dooms Lions

Published On: Nov 22 2012 08:15:36 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 23 2012 01:04:20 AM CST
Detroit Lions helmet

NFL

DETROIT, Michigan -

 The Houston Texans took advantage of a big mistake by Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz.
    
Shayne Graham's 32-yard field goal with 2:21 left overtime lifted Houston to a 34-31 win over Detroit on Thursday after Schwartz broke an NFL rule on a scoring play.
    
Detroit kicker Jason Hanson had a chance to get Schwartz off the hook, but his 47-yard field goal attempt on the fifth possession of the extra period hit the right upright.
    
Schwartz threw a challenge flag when Houston's Justin Forsett scored on an 81-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Replays showed Forsett was down near midfield, but Schwartz negated the automatic review by challenging the play and was called for unsportsmanlike conduct.
    
"It's on me," Schwartz said to his assistant coaches and players on the sideline as he tapped his chest. "It's on me."
    
Yes, it was.
    
That touchdown pulled Houston within three points counted and Schwartz was called for unsportsmanlike conduct.
    
Arian Foster ran for 102 yards and two scores, including a 1-yard run with 1:55 left in the fourth quarter to cap a 15-play, 97-yard drive that took 5:43 off the clock and tied the game at 31.
    
AFC South-leading Houston (10-1) took its first lead when Graham made up for missing a field goal earlier in a turnover-filled OT. The Texans have won five straight - two in a row in OT - and if a handful of teams lose they could be in the playoffs by the time they get back on the practice field after a long weekend.
    
Detroit (4-7) has lost three straight to make it extremely difficult to reach its goal of earning a spot in consecutive postseasons for the first time since the mid-1990s.
    
And as if the Lions don't have enough problems, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh could be in trouble with the league again after his left cleat connected with Matt Schaub's groin area in the first quarter. It wasn't clear on replays Thursday whether it was intentional, but it might be tough for Suh to get the benefit of doubt.
    
Suh was on his chest, taken down by an offensive lineman, when he extended his left foot below Schaub's belt.
    
Last year on Thanksgiving, Suh was ejected for stomping on the right arm of Green Bay offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith and was suspended for two games. He has been fined in previous seasons for roughing up quarterbacks: Cincinnati's Andy Dalton, Chicago's Jay Cutler and Cleveland's Jake Delhomme.
    
Schaub shook off the blow, stayed in the game, and was 29 of 48 for 315 yards with 9-yard TD to Owen Daniels to tie the game at 14 late in the first half.
    
Houston's Andre Johnson had nine receptions for 188 yards. J.J. Watt had three sacks, one on Detroit's first snap and the other two that helped the Texans stay within a TD late in the game.
    
Detroit scored four go-ahead TDs, including on Joique Bell's 23-yard run early in the fourth quarter, and had a 10-point lead midway through the third quarter.
    
The Lions drove deep enough into Houston territory to put Hanson in a position to give them a 10-point lead, but Watt forced them to punt each time with sacks on third downs.
    
Matthew Stafford was 31 of 61 for 441 yards with two TDs - tiebreaking scores to Calvin Johnson and Mike Thomas in the second quarter - for 441 yards and an interception.
    
Detroit failed to make the Texans respect its running game with Mikel Leshoure gaining just 32 yards on 12 carries. Leshoure did give the Lions their first TD on an opening possession that marked the first rushing score on the ground against Houston.
    
Those accomplishments, along with providing entertainment for the nationally televised audience for a change on Thanksgiving was of little consolation for the franchise.
    
The Lions lost their previous eight games on the holiday by an averaging of three-plus touchdowns.
    
Detroit extended the longest losing streak in its annual showcase to nine in a closely contested matchup no one will soon forget.

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