In the short 15 year history of the Houston Texans, there have been few games quite like the one played on Thanksgiving Day 2012. I bring that up because it was also the last time the Texans played the Detroit Lions and it featured one of the wildest plays in Texans history from a guy that is now a current Detroit Lion.
Justin Forsett has carved out a solid nine year career after being drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the seventh round of the 2008 draft. In 2012, he joined the Houston Texans as a complementary back to star Arian Foster. He played a vital role for the Texans that season, especially on Thanksgiving day. Five days after the Texans hung on in overtime to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, the weary Texans flew to Detroit to tangle with the 4-6 Lions.
As expected, the Texans were a bit sluggish and trailed 24-14 in the third quarter when Forsett came into the game and changed the NFL rule book. Well, he didn't, but he helped do it. He took a handoff from Matt Schaub started through the line and seemed to get tackled as his elbow hit the ground. As everyone stopped, Forsett popped up and kept running 81 yards, all the way to the house. The officials immediately signaled touchdown and on cue, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz immediately threw his challenge flag.
The NFL had instituted the automatic challenge rule on all scoring plays in 2011 so Schwartz had no need to challenge the call. However, at the time, if a coach threw a challenge flag on a scoring play, he was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct and the opportunity for review was then negated.
Forsett was clearly down on the play but because Schwartz negated the replay by throwing the red challenge flag, the play stood and it cut the Lions lead to 24-21.
In March of the following year, the NFL owners voted to change the instant replay rules and allow the review, no matter whether the coach throws his challenge flag needlessly or not. It became known as the Jim Schwartz rule.
After a wild overtime period, the Texans walked out with a 34-31 victory and flew home 11-1 for the first time in team history.
Forsett eventually headed to Baltimore and became a Pro Bowl running back. Ironically, four years later, he'll be on the other sideline wearing the Honolulu blue of the Lions in this matchup with the Texans. Hopefully, he won't have any 81-yard runs in this one.
The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 3/2/2021)