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The fumble out the endzone rule


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I have never liked the rule where if an offensive player fumbles out the side of the endzone it becomes a loss of possession and a touchback.

 

I'm not just saying this because I feel bad for Browns fans or I wanted the Chiefs to lose or anything.  I have always thought this but what we say today just magnified the rule and how big of an impact it can have.  That one single play likely decided a playoff game yesterday.

 

I think it makes sense when the ball goes out the back of the endzone, like when the center snaps it over the head of the QB or the Punter.  But I hate seeing a player outside the endzone fumble into it reaching for the pylon like today and then it's a turnover.

 

If a player fumbles anywhere else on the field and it goes out of bounds sideways, it's not a turnover.  It's just out of bounds and they retain possession.  Seems kinda inconsistent with the side of the endzone.  And a turnover should only be a turnover if the defense actually recovers.

 

One good argument for the existing rule is that the rules are not so skewed towards offense that the defense needs every advantage it can get.  But that wasn't the case long ago when this rule was put into place.

 

Interested to hear who else agrees or strongly disagrees for whatever reason.

Edited by cashvillesent
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Having watched this game for over 40 years I agree with the "stick with the rule" crowd in here.  As harsh as it is - there is no other remedy that makes sense in the context of the rest of the r

I found the below on this, if you are interested.  NFL senior vice president of officiating explains why the rule is the way it is - “Because the goal line is involved — and this is a consistent

For context, I'm a Browns fan.  In my opinion, this rule is perfectly fine as is, and it's a good balance between risk vs. reward on stretching the ball out at the goal-line.  Every time I've ever see

I don't mind it, forces teams to really protect the football going into the endzone and makes things interesting. Cleveland took a huge risk there diving for the TD and it obviously blew up in their face, but that's the rules. However, if that happened to my team, I'd be so devastated. I do feel sorry for Browns fans there.

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To allow the ball to be placed at the 1, you'd have to change or expand what the goal line represents. Cross the goal with possession, case closed! To me, there are several aspects of that particular play that are more relevant. One is that 1st & goal from the 1 in. line should've been good enough for the ball-carrier! There was no reason, none, to risk exposing the ball in that situation. The officials made a bad call in not penalizing the defender for leading with the crown to make helmet to helmet contact. So, a personal foul, prior to the fumble is what should've been called.

Edited by markrc99
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I don't see anything wrong with the rule. I believe OP when he says he's not saying this simply because he feels bad for the Browns but I think alot of people on Twitter are. If you fumble and it goes out of bounds in the field of play, offense retains possession, marked out where the ball when out. If you fumble and it goes out of the back of the endzone, it's a touchback. I like it because it's consistent with the NFLs touchback rules. Reaching the ball out like Higgins did is risky business, you accept that when you make the move. 

On punt coverage, you don't get to down the ball where you last touched it. If you touch it at the one but can't control it and it flies out of the back of the endzone, it's a touchback. On offense, if you can't control the ball through the plane of the endzone and it flies out the back, it's a touchback.

Edited by USWAY
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Terrible Rule, Offense should get the ball at the 20/25 yard line, like a kickoff touchback. Defense didn't recover the ball so they shouldn't get possession is the bottom line. Some I see like the risk of diving for a TD and what happens if you fumble it, id venture to say a majority would vote to change the rule though.

 

This leading with the Crown thing needs to go as well. The lack of consistency magnifies its issues as we saw this weekend. There is inherent risk playing football and at some point the game is as safe as it can be made.

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It probably would make more sense for the offensive team to keep the ball at the 1 since the defense never establishes possession on the fumble.  I mean if the ball went out of bounds on the field side of the pylon instead of the end zone side then the Browns would have kept it. 

 

  With that said, I don't really care either way.  Right now the rule is the rule so don't stretch the ball out. 

Almost as soon as this play happened Devin McCourty tweeted about how Pats players are drilled not to reach the ball for this exact reason so maybe more coaches should be drilling that in. 

Edited by GottaGetTheWin
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4 minutes ago, lolcopter said:

Being rewarded with a bonus possession after you turn the ball over is about the most ridiculous thing I've heard so far

The defense didn't recover the ball, so just like fumbling out of bounds, it isn't a turnover. I don't see the need for making a rule specifically for fumbles out of the end zone. Fumbles are fumbles, why overcomplicate it and start drama as we are seeing from that play. 

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6 minutes ago, kmoore1521 said:

The defense didn't recover the ball, so just like fumbling out of bounds, it isn't a turnover. I don't see the need for making a rule specifically for fumbles out of the end zone. Fumbles are fumbles, why overcomplicate it and start drama as we are seeing from that play. 

It's a turnover based on where the ball went out of bounds, pretty simple

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Just now, lolcopter said:

It's a turnover based on where the ball went out of bounds, pretty simple

Seems like an unnecessary caveat to the usual fumble rules with them going out of bounds. To each their own we all have our preferences. Seems like they're overcomplicating it IMO

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I see no problem with the rule, hold on to the ball and you don't have to worry about it.  Every other rule change in the last 20 years of the NFL has be benefited the offense, no need to change it.

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45 minutes ago, lolcopter said:

it's a fine rule, just don't fumble

I'm fine with punishing the fumbling team, but it turns into a a twenty yard penalty and a change of possession.  Literally the harshest penalty in all of football. Seems disproportionate to the act. Violently slam a defenseless QB into the turf, 15yard penalty. Ball slips out of your hands goes forward one foot and out of bounds, 20 yard penalty AND a turnover. Ehh...

Not sure why fumbling the ball through the endzone can't just be a 15 yard penalty. Instead of second and goal at the 1, you now have 2nd and goal at the 16. That seems plenty harsh enough. 

 

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12 minutes ago, kmoore1521 said:

Seems like an unnecessary caveat to the usual fumble rules with them going out of bounds. To each their own we all have our preferences. Seems like they're overcomplicating it IMO

It's not an unnecessary caveat though. You can't have forward progress on a fumble. Offense retains possession only when the ball is still in play. Turning the ball over in your opponent's end zone should result in possession changing 100% of the time.

 

 

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12 minutes ago, lolcopter said:

It's not an unnecessary caveat though. You can't have forward progress on a fumble. Offense retains possession only when the ball is still in play. Turning the ball over in your opponent's end zone should result in possession changing 100% of the time.

 

 

Why though when a usual fumble, when out of bounds, stays with the offense? Its taking the usual rules for fumble, and altering it specifically when referencing the End Zone. You also said "offense retains possession only when the ball is in play" which isn't consistent with the usual fumble rules.

 

I would want the rule to just be universal, when it goes out of bounds, offense retains possession, who cares where it goes out of bounds. You seem to like the idea of penalizing players for diving for the end zone, that's fine and dandy but not my cup of tea.. Also fumbling out of the end zone wouldn't even be "forward progress on a fumble" so not sure what you mean by that (as said id like to see the ball brought BACK to like the 20-25 yard line as the penalty for fumbling out of the end zone).

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It is honestly a bit confusing to me since the defense never gains possession of the ball in a lost fumble unless they recover it inbounds, with the one exception being fumbling through the endzone.

I wouldn't mind seeing the offense retain possession, but penalized for fumbling it through the endzone. Get the ball back at the 20, 10, or 5 yard line. And then the opposing team get a 2pt safety.

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Example:

Player catches ball, runs 20 yards, fumbles out of bounds at the 40, offense keeps the ball and its spotted where he fumbled it (cannot have forward progress on a fumble).

Next,

Player catches ball runs 10 yards and dives for the end zone, fumbles it and it goes out of bounds (but gasp! its the end zone!). To remain consistent, the ball should be spotted where he fumbled and offense retains possession. Just as we saw in the first example. Consistency. 

 

Now then, I agree there should be somewhat of a negative for when you fumble out of the end zone as all you have to do for a TD is break the plain (pretty simple). Hence why my suggestion is moving the ball back to the 20-25 for the offense like a touchback. Having this weird caveat for the End Zone is creating inconsistency so it just makes more sense to keep the rule somewhat universal.

 

To each their own though.

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6 minutes ago, kmoore1521 said:

Why though when a usual fumble, when out of bounds, stays with the offense?

Because they were the last team to have possession while the ball was still in the field of play which is a very important distinction from the endzone where the play is immediately over upon crossing the goal line WHILE IN POSSESSION of the ball. If you lose possession of the ball in the area where you are supposed to be scoring, you should not under any circumstances get a "redo" from the 15 or 20 or whatever. You guys are rewarding bad offense with these suggestions. You don't want to give the ball to the other team? Then don't dive for the pylon and drop the ball in the endzone.

6 minutes ago, kmoore1521 said:

Its taking the usual rules for fumble, and altering it specifically when referencing the End Zone. You also said "offense retains possession only when the ball is in play" which isn't consistent with the usual fumble rules.

It's entirely consistent with the rules with regard to the ball in play. If the QB took a snap, and threw it directly out of bounds five yards behind the line of scrimmage, that is effectively the same thing as fumbling out of bounds and the offense would retain possession where the ball went out. Similarly, since the fumbled ball cannot be advanced, the offense cannot retain possession in the opponent's endzone! That is the distinct difference between field of play and endzone. It's not arbitrary rules with regard to fumbling, these are guidelines with regard to the ball as it is in play.

6 minutes ago, kmoore1521 said:

I would want the rule to just be universal, when it goes out of bounds, offense retains possession, who cares where it goes out of bounds. You seem to like the idea of penalizing players for diving for the end zone, that's fine and dandy but not my cup of tea.. Also fumbling out of the end zone wouldn't even be "forward progress on a fumble" so not sure what you mean by that (as said id like to see the ball brought BACK to like the 20-25 yard line as the penalty for fumbling out of the end zone).

Moving the line of scrimmage for a redo because someone screwed up is completely ridiculous.

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1 minute ago, 1972Miamidolphins said:

Forget that!  What about the helmet to helmet rule!

So many of those are still missed throughout games.

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The play yesterday doesn’t affect me one way or another. That said, I don’t understand the logic and/or the spirit of the rule. As has been mentioned, anytime a player fumbles out of bounds anywhere on the field it’s NOT a turnover. The only time it’s considered a turnover is when the ball is fumbled into the end zone  and subsequently out of bounds. Why is that considered a turnover? Why isn’t every fumble that goes out of bounds anywhere on the field a turnover? Why the inconsistency?
 

If a player fumbles out of bounds at the 1 yard line it’s no big deal, they retain possession at the one. BUT, if the ball happens to take one more unlucky bounce and crosses the goal line before going out of bounds the opponent gets a massive gift by getting the ball at their 20.  Why? That’s a bizarre twist in the rules which completely changes the game. 

Edited by Lamont Sanford
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