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Mike Smith on challenge flag blunder: 'It was my mistake'

The Falcons coach nearly costs his team after an unnecessary challenge flag might have cost his team possession.

Kevin C. Cox

An unnecessary challenge flag tossed by Falcons coach Mike Smith's might have cost the Falcons the ball and good field position midway through Atlanta's victory on Sunday, but when placing blame, Smith pointed only at himself.

In the second half, Cardinals linebacker Sam Acho forced Falcons running back Jason Snelling to fumble, and just as the ball was headed out of bounds, Cardinals cornerback Greg Toler appeared to knock the ball back in bounds, where it was recovered by Cardinals safety Reshad Jennings.

If Toler had been ruled out of bounds on the automatic referee's review on any turnover call, the ball would have gone back to the Falcons. But Smith threw his challenge flag, which makes the play non-reviewable. Smith was visibly trying to hide the flag from view after he threw it, but it was too little, too late.

"We have to find a way for the coach not to throw a challenge flag at the wrong time," Smith told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "You've got lots of people talking in your ear. It was my mistake. My guys bailed me out today."

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.