One of the weirdest plays of the Arizona Cardinals 2011 season happened in the Cardinals-Niners game. The Niners lined up for a field goal, and it looked like Andy Lee executed a perfect fake field goal for a touchdown pass. However, the refs blew the whistle and said that the Cardinals called a challenge on the previous play, and ruled the fake field goal play dead. Then it got really strange. The replay equipment had malfunctioned, and the refs couldn’t review the play, saving the Cardinals a timeout (as the highlight seemed to indicate the Cardinals challenge would not have been upheld). The Niners lined up once again for a field goal, which David Akers missed. The Cardinals took over, and scored–which means that the strange turn of events resulted in a 14-point swing in favor of the Cardinals.
Challenges rarely result in this kind of scenario. However, they often can have a big impact on a game, especially in close games when an extra timeout can be the difference between a last-minute game-winning drive or not. Which leads me to my point.