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Darren Sproles Touchdown Catch: Officials Fail To Review Questionable Play (VIDEO)

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The New Orleans Saints beat the Chicago Bears on Sunday, leveling their record at 1-1.

Early in the fourth quarter with the Saints leading the visiting Bears by 10 points, Darren Sproles hauled in a swing pass from Drew Brees and tiptoed along the sideline en route to the endzone. The score broke the game open, but replays would show viewers that Sproles may have stepped out of bounds during the play.

In past seasons, Bears head coach Lovie Smith likely would have thrown a challenge flag in order to have the play reviewed by officials, but an NFL rule change approved last March by the owners means that coaches can no longer challenge scoring plays. According to the new rule, officials should automatically review all touchdowns.

So you can imagine how dismayed Bears fans were when they saw the Saints kick the ensuing extra point without officials ever stopping play to review the sideline dash by Sproles.

Former NFL Vice President of Officiating and Fox Sports Analyst Mike Pereira expressed his confusion in his column at FoxSports.com:

I can’t figure this out. It makes no sense to me that this call was not reversed. This rule was put in to save the coaches from having to use one of their challenges when the ruling on the field is a touchdown. The replay official has as much time as he needs, to either confirm the call as correct or to send it down to the field for the referee to review.

Even the NFL's own website seems to think that this was a questionable play. The caption for the video of Sproles' scoring play on NFL.com reads, "Saints RB Darren Sproles goes in for a 12-yard touchdown, but did he step out of bounds before he got in?" It would seem that the new replay rule was put in place to ensure that the question "Did he step out bounds before he got in?" would be eradicated from the NFL conversations.

While it's entirely possible that Sproles' heel never came down out of bounds and the touchdown call would have been upheld in review, this seems to be precisely the sort of scoring play meant to be reviewed under this new rule. The questionable touchdown put the Saints up by 17 points early in the fourth quarter. New Orleans would eventually win by a tally of 30-13.

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