During the second quarter of Sunday’s game between Cleveland and Minnesota Browns punt returner Travis Benjamin muffed a punt that Vikings linebacker Larry Dean picked up and returned for a touchdown. However under NFL rules muffed punts can’t be advanced so the officials correctly ruled that it would be Vikings ball at Cleveland’s 26-yard line.
That’s when things went awry. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier challenged the call hoping for a touchdown. However coaches aren’t allowed to challenge plays that are automatically reviewed such as turnovers and touchdowns.
In 2012 the penalty for wrongly challenging a play was a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct flag. Lions coach Jim Schwartz was famously hit with this flag in a Thanksgiving game that Detroit ended up losing to Houston in overtime.
However the NFL changed the rule after the 2012 season so that a team wouldn’t be penalized 15-yards. Instead a team would just be charged a timeout. So the Vikings should have been charged a timeout but that didn’t happen.