By NOAH TRISTER/AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) – Justin Forsett scooted up the middle and lunged forward while a couple of Detroit defenders closed in to stop him. His knee hit the ground, but the Houston running back hopped up quickly and took off toward the end zone.
“I know now that I was down, but I didn’t think I was during the play,” Forsett said. “I didn’t think my knee hit, and there was no whistle, so I kept going.”
Forsett had nothing to lose by getting up and running – and unbelievably, the 81-yard scoring play stood. The officials missed the call, giving the Texans a touchdown, and Detroit coach Jim Schwartz inadvertently wiped out any chance of a replay review by throwing his challenge flag when he wasn’t allowed to.
That was all Houston needed to start a second-half comeback, and the Texans went on to beat the Lions 34-31 in overtime Thursday.<
"Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good," running back Arian Foster said.
AFC South-leading Houston (10-1) has won five straight – two in a row in OT – and if a handful of teams lose, the Texans could be in the playoffs by the end of this weekend.
The Lions led 24-14 in the third quarter when Forsett scored on his long run. Replays clearly showed Forsett's knee touching the ground around his own 25 – Detroit players even slowed up, assuming the play was over.
Forsett got up and ran all the way to the end zone.
Scoring plays are reviewed automatically – but if a coach throws a challenge flag like Schwartz did, the review is negated and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty is assessed. So the touchdown stood despite obvious evidence it shouldn't have.
Detroit (4-7) still led 24-21 after Forsett's touchdown, and the Lions went up 31-24 on Joique Bell's 23-yard TD run with 13:31 left in the fourth.
Houston rallied, tying it at 31 on Foster's 1-yard run with 1:55 to play. That touchdown capped a 15-play, 97-yard drive that included a conversion on fourth-and-7.
"Had our opportunities to win it multiple times. Both teams did," Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "It was a great football game. Didn't catch many breaks and couldn't capitalize on a couple we needed to."
Texans kicker Shayne Graham missed from 51 yards in overtime, and Detroit's Jason Hanson hit the right upright from 47. Graham finally connected from 32 to win it.
Detroit extended its losing streak in its annual Thanksgiving showcase to nine.
Hanson's miss came on third down after the Lions had lost 3 yards on a second-down run. The Lions sent the veteran kicker onto the field instead of trying to move the ball a bit closer.
"We didn't want to give up a negative play, and they'd been trying really hard to strip the ball, so we didn't want to risk a turnover," Schwartz said.
The Lions were hoping a three-game homestand would help revive their playoff hopes, but they lost against Green Bay last weekend and couldn't hold on against the Texans.
If the Lions didn't have enough problems, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh could be in trouble with the league again after his left cleat connected with Houston quarterback Matt Schaub's groin area in the first quarter.
"I really don't have anything to say about that play or that person," Schaub said.
Suh was on his chest, taken down by an offensive lineman, when he extended his left foot below Schaub's belt.
It wasn't clear on replays whether the kick was intentional. Suh didn't stick around talk to reporters after the game.
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 stayed in the game, and was 29 of 48 for 315 yards with a 9-yard TD to Owen Daniels that tied it at 14 late in the first half. He also threw an interception.
Houston's Andre Johnson had nine receptions for 188 yards.
Stafford was 31 of 61 for 441 yards with two TDs – tiebreaking scores to Calvin Johnson and Mike Thomas in the second quarter. It wasn't enough.
"We got what we deserved," Stafford said. "We didn't capitalize on our chances."
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)