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Eli’s worries over Cruz play likely were based on first-hand experience

Jerry Bergman, Richard Marshall AP

After Sunday’s win over the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium — capped by another crazy play followed promptly by the game-winning touchdown pass, just like Super Bowl XLII — Giants quarterback Eli Manning seemed to think the Giants had gotten away with one, thanks to the ruling that kept the ball in New York’s possession after receiver Victor Cruz went down with the ball . . . and got up without it.

Eli’s beliefs likely arose from his own experiences.  On an NBC Sunday night last year at Philadelphia, Eli ran for a key first down late in the game.  Instead of sliding, he clumsily fell forward, losing the ball when he landed on the ground, and ultimately losing the game.

But here’s the difference.  Manning promptly lost the ball when he hit the ground.  Thus, Eli didn’t “declare[] himself down by falling to the ground, or kneeling, and making no effort to advance,” as required by the rule.  Instead, he hit the ground without being contacted by a defensive player and lost the ball when he landed, the only situation in which the ground actually can cause a fumble.

Cruz fell to the ground and made no effort to advance.  He didn’t have to literally “declare himself down” like Michael Scott declaring bankruptcy; under the rule, once a player falls to the ground and makes no effort to advance, he necessarily has declared himself to be down and the play is over.

So Cruz got up thereafter without the ball, it didn’t matter.  The play already was over.

It’s possible that the rule has been applied incorrectly in the past, most notably in 2000, when then-Steelers rookie receiver Plaxico Burress hit the ground untouched, got up, spiked it, and saw Danny Clark of the Jaguars run 44 yards with the ball in the other direction.  But the rule was applied correctly on Sunday by the officials.

I’m the first guy to accuse the officials of screwing up, like referee Mike Carey did on Sunday night when he missed Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata putting his helmet in the back of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.  So when they get it right, it’s only fair to say so just as loudly — especially when so many are claiming that they got it wrong.

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60 Responses to “Eli’s worries over Cruz play likely were based on first-hand experience”
  1. trbowman says: Oct 3, 2011 7:50 PM

    That rule sucks almost as much as the tuck rule and the Calvin Johnson rule.

    Too many terrible rules.

  2. donz0 says: Oct 3, 2011 7:54 PM

    I never heard of this rule until today. And it makes no sense.

  3. naygerkid says: Oct 3, 2011 7:56 PM

    I especially like how the refs in the Bills game messed up Stevie Johnson’s call. Clearly he caught the ball without it ever touching the ground but it was incomplete???

  4. tampajoey says: Oct 3, 2011 7:56 PM

    “Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata putting his helmet in the back of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez”

    LOVED IT!!!!!!

  5. orthodoxdj says: Oct 3, 2011 7:58 PM

    I watched the replay and have now concluded that it was the right call.

    However, Tom Brady did fumble against Oakland in the tuck rule game.

  6. johnnycash19 says: Oct 3, 2011 7:58 PM

    Something needs to be done about the refs though. Either hire full time refs or actually start holding refs accountable. But of course the NFL will never hold refs accountable because that would mean they would have to admit to a mistake.

  7. luckyarmpit says: Oct 3, 2011 8:00 PM

    Giants-haters, please read and be quiet. Thank you.

  8. pnut87 says: Oct 3, 2011 8:00 PM

    Good call on a bad rule. That’s basically what this boils down to. I fully believe that a player should be able to “give himself up”, but this rule needs to be at least rewritten for clarification and remove any gray area. Refs shouldn’t have to make judgment calls, that’s where flag inconsistency really screws with teams and controversy like this arises.

  9. pudgalvin says: Oct 3, 2011 8:00 PM

    I DECLARE DOWN!!!!

  10. aholland00 says: Oct 3, 2011 8:01 PM

    After this play i wondered…”if he got up with the ball, like every other does, and got hit by a Panther would there have been a flag for a late hit ?”

  11. jakek2 says: Oct 3, 2011 8:01 PM

    MF – Disagree on “clumsily falling forward”. Eli was not trying to pick up more yardage at the time he “clumsily” fell forward as you say. He slid headfirst in his own awkward forward manner because he doesn’t slide feet first. Based on the letter of the rule, that play could have been blown dead as well (but rightfully wasn’t).

    Bottom line…it’s a total judgment call.

    The rule should be changed to make the intent of the player more clear. Maybe only when a player takes a knee or waives fair catch is he declaring to be down. That would remove the guessing game from the ref.

  12. eastsideballa says: Oct 3, 2011 8:02 PM

    How about Marvin Harrison’s catch in Indy against the pats where he caught the ball, went down and stayed down in the fetal position for a good 3 seconds, then got up and ran for about 60-70yds for the TD? Anybody remember that? Stupid rule get rid of it.

  13. beastofeden says: Oct 3, 2011 8:02 PM

    Get off JaMARKus Sanchez’s jock.

    Maybe if he were a better QB with a quicker release he wouldn’t have been in that position.

  14. NFLJunkie says: Oct 3, 2011 8:03 PM

    Cruz didn’t “fall” to the ground in an obvious lay-down. He stumbled as if he just lost his balance…and then immediately lost/gave up control of the ball.

    I actually do believe that once he stumbled and fell, he made no effort to advance and announced his intentions by turning back to the LOS. As if to line up again. So it was kind of a mixed bag when it comes to the wording of the rule.

    But that’s a rule that could be much clearer if they just had a specific description of how to declare yourself down — feet first slide or taking a knee seems like it would work.

  15. aholland00 says: Oct 3, 2011 8:03 PM

    sorry about that…i meant cardinal not panther lol

  16. stairwayto7 says: Oct 3, 2011 8:05 PM

    I was at game and even Giant fans never heard of that rule! We know Goodell has the refs in his back pocket and wants Jets-Giants to do well so they get the calls!

  17. eastsideballa says: Oct 3, 2011 8:10 PM

    Scratch that…its was against greenbay or denver…I dont remember…but u still know what Im talking about.

  18. hedleykow says: Oct 3, 2011 8:11 PM

    What about when YOU are WRONG?

    This is really more about you being wrong than the refs being right, because if you would have reported the story correctly to begin with, we wouldn’t be still talking about it now.

  19. bspurloc says: Oct 3, 2011 8:11 PM

    at 90mph the refs saw him give himself up… play is DEAD its over… enough with it…

    stop crying. call your momma…

  20. bradwins says: Oct 3, 2011 8:11 PM

    I see that you did not mention your boy Tony Dungy, who was adamant last night that they refs blew the call.

  21. gpete1962 says: Oct 3, 2011 8:11 PM

    your absolutely right !!

    Cruz maintained possession as he went down and flipped the ball after he gave up ending the play to get back to the huddle…..

    Eli lost the ball when he hit the ground, big difference.

    So tell Idiot’s like Tony Dungey and Fat Francessa to keep there mouths shut if there not sure what the rule is

  22. aequitas83 says: Oct 3, 2011 8:14 PM

    As a lawyer, it is a semi-hobby of mine to understand the rules of several sports (and also officiate). However, the media’s and fans’ ignorance of the rules of the game is disturbing.

    For the media, the blame falls squarely on their shoulders. It’s a game they cover for a living – the least they can do is understand the rules by which the game that they are paid to cover is played.

    For fans, I have more sympathy. Every time I watch a game, I can’t help but think football is like the tax code. Everyone gets the gist, but only experts truly understand the niceties (even that is questionable, as the Steelers demonstrated in their irresponsible suggestion that the type of chop block used in zone blocking techniques developed even before the advent of the forward pass is somehow illegal). This is also undoubtedly fueled by the often misguided analysis offered by pundits and analysts. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard someone complain about face guarding like it is illegal.

    It’s not an easy problem to solve. I think that both the rules need to be simplified and the media needs to be held responsible for incorrectly explaining a rule. NBC does a decent job of checking with their truck and clarifying issues – more people need to take note of this approach.

    By the way, you’re dead on with your analysis, Mike. Unfortunately no one actually knew the rule and therefore the perception that there was a mistake will pervade for weeks to come.

  23. clavette says: Oct 3, 2011 8:15 PM

    if thats how its stated in the rule book, then the officials got it correct.

    blame the rule book if you have a problem with the play. no doubt in my mind this will be reviewed at the end of the season by the competition commitee

    and the defenders should be touching him to down him anyways. you guys wanna be stupid its gonna cost you one day

  24. eaglesnoles05 says: Oct 3, 2011 8:22 PM

    Yaaaaaa think?

  25. Mr. Wright 212 says: Oct 3, 2011 8:23 PM

    You hear that EAGLES FANS?

  26. n0hopeleft says: Oct 3, 2011 8:30 PM

    Where is the EMPTY TROPHY CASE CLAN at?
    Awfully quiet in the crappy city of Philadelphia right now.

    All of you losers couldn’t shut your mouth when you went on a prima-donna signing frenzy.

    Where are your comments about Eli and the Giants now?

    WHERE ARE YOU AT?!?!?!?!

    GOOD TALK!

  27. azbroncos says: Oct 3, 2011 8:38 PM

    Mike you are wrong! And if this was reversed and the Cardinals got the call all hell would have broke loose because a New York team got screwed! We all know it, the refs and the NFL make sure east coast teams do well.(Especially New York)

  28. aholland00 says: Oct 3, 2011 8:45 PM

    ummm during that “signing frenzy” wasn”t there a lot of complaining by Giants fans that their team wasn’t doing anything ?
    SHORT MEMORIES !

  29. jg725 says: Oct 3, 2011 8:49 PM

    here we go stairway07 – you and the rest of your loser pitt fans certainly have nothing to be happy about today – so you try to disrespect a team that actually has a WINNING RECORD – very, very, sad – but definitely not surprising – you all should looking at your schedule to see if there are any games left that you might actually win – and hopefully your team is scanning the waiver list for upgrades – HAHA!!! I love it

  30. azcardinal32 says: Oct 3, 2011 9:10 PM

    Cruz said in an interview after the game he thought he was touched. He said it himself, the reason he got up is he thought he was touched down. But he wasnt and THAT IS EXACTLY WHY THEY BLOW THE WHISTLE AT THE END OF EVERY PLAY!!! The play goes on until the whistle is blown, if he was truly trying to give himself up why wouldnt he stay on the ground until the whistle?

    Yes the rule exists but this was not a case in which that rule applys. Cruz did not intend to give himself up, he made a highschool level mistake and didnt wait for the whistle. Fumble.

  31. jackbauerqb1 says: Oct 3, 2011 9:23 PM

    Hey GIVE IT UP ALREADY MIKE!! Clearly it was a live ball. The receiver did not “give himself up”. He did a Plexico and thought the play was over. Just like Plex spiked the ball because he thought he was down, Cruz thought he was down. REFS BLEW IT, PLAIN AS DAY. The fact you keep bringing it up probably gives away that you KNOW it was wrong and are just playing devil’s advocaate. PLAY AWAY!!HA HA

  32. waxedagain says: Oct 3, 2011 9:45 PM

    Former VP of Officiating Mike Pereira is one of the biggest critics of the officials blowing that call. It just goes to show how many blown calls were covered up by him when he was the VP – he really doesn’t understand the rules. I recall so many controversial calls that were endorsed by him. I was so glad when he was replaced.

  33. waxedagain says: Oct 3, 2011 9:51 PM

    @azcardinal32: have some cheese with your whine. Cruz didn’t know the rule that he doesn’t have to be touched to give himself up. If he tried to advance the ball after he fell to the ground – some players try to crawl forward – then it would have been a fumble if he left the ball on the ground.

  34. stratomaticfan says: Oct 3, 2011 10:02 PM

    Anyone remember Walter Payton tripping untouched at the goal line, putting the ball down, and getting up (thinking he was down) and the defense recovering what was ruled a fumble? You would think that the player would have to either a) cause himself to go down intentionally, or b) to be down and to stay down for some period of time to establish himself as down. By him tripping and falling, he should have to stay down until either the D touches him, or the ref rules him down. It shouldn’t happen when he pops up almost immediately. The ref should have to have time to determine that he is no longer making an effort.

  35. forthelove says: Oct 3, 2011 10:22 PM

    Seriously, this rule means that any time a receiver is down and not touched, but let’s go of the ball because they thought they were touched (which by Cruz’s own admission is exactly what happened here) that they are actually down and the play is dead. Previously this has been called (apparently incorrectly?) a fumble and the receiver is railed for being a bonehead.

  36. forthelove says: Oct 3, 2011 10:27 PM

    Basically, this is a stupid rule.

    So if a ballcarrier dives to the ground and then crawls forward for yards the play is still going. Or if a ballcarrier dives to the ground and then gets up and runs, the play is still going. Buuuut, if he dives to the ground and then drops the ball, then he’s down.

  37. showtyme34 says: Oct 3, 2011 10:46 PM

    I look at this like the same thing as when a quarterback kneels down on to run the clock out or if a kick returner kneels down to down the ball in the endzone. If this rule was not established, they would have to wait until someone touched them before they would be down.

    Logically the situation should have been like the Plaxico Burress play where he gave up the ball, but there needs to be something so the quarterback doesn’t get smashed everytime he tries to kneel the ball.

  38. 44kyle says: Oct 3, 2011 10:49 PM

    Cruz thought he must have been touched because he heard the whistle. What HE thought has nothing to do with the ruling. The officials felt he had given himself up and their judgement is all that matters.

  39. dclogicatlast says: Oct 3, 2011 10:57 PM

    Looking at NFL rules through the lens of lawyer is a sure fire way to ruin the game.

  40. eldritchblast says: Oct 4, 2011 12:39 AM

    @azbroncos – if you think that’s true you either don’t watch enough NY football or are a conspiracy nutjob. As a Giants fan I can tell you the Giants are usually getting jobbed on calls. In Sunday alone, The Cardinals O-line were clinging on the Giants’ defenders like a co-dependant girlfriend. Haolti Nata speared Sanchez causing a fumble. Btw, that fumble should’ve been a forward pass. Against Philly Eli fumbled while getting face-masked and there was no call.

    And the BIG one, in ’02 playoffs vs. the Niners, there were two penalties against the Niners on the last play (a FG attempt to win) and the refs called a random penalty on the Giants. Season over. The next day the NFL _apologizes_ which leads to the Giants getting NOTHING.

    If I had a nickel for each time the refs screwed the Giants, I’d never have to work again.

  41. eldritchblast says: Oct 4, 2011 12:45 AM

    To everyone pointing out that Cruz didn’t know the rule which PROOVES it. How many want to bet Tom Brady never heard of the “tuck rule” before ’01? The rule is still the rule whether the player was aware of it or not.

  42. stanstandard says: Oct 4, 2011 1:49 AM

    Kinda hard to argue he was declaring himself down, when he said after in an interview that he thought someone touched him.

    Also if he had gotten back up and kept running you think the refs would have stopped him and said he had declared himself down? nope

    Bad call bad viewpoint

  43. bullcharger says: Oct 4, 2011 2:17 AM

    I agree they missed the call on the Ngata hit to Sanchez. Ngata dipped his head right before the hit and purposely popped him in dead center of his back. That will be fined for sure if the league is consistent. It should have been called too but I think it was missed since it was from behind.

    That said, I do hate Sanchez, so I don’t mind seeing him get smoked like that.

  44. yevrag3535 says: Oct 4, 2011 2:34 AM

    Eli blows.

  45. Mr. Wright 212 says: Oct 4, 2011 2:43 AM

    stratomaticfan says: Oct 3, 2011 10:02 PM

    Anyone remember Walter Payton tripping untouched at the goal line, putting the ball down, and getting up (thinking he was down) and the defense recovering what was ruled a fumble? You would think that the player would have to either a) cause himself to go down intentionally, or b) to be down and to stay down for some period of time to establish himself as down. By him tripping and falling, he should have to stay down until either the D touches him, or the ref rules him down. It shouldn’t happen when he pops up almost immediately. The ref should have to have time to determine that he is no longer making an effort.
    ————-

    Situation, dude. It is understood by everyone involved that the Giants are in hurry up mode. Any other point in the game, that’s probably going to be a fumble and the rule doesn’t come into play — because a receiver has no incentive to “give himself up” with 3:17 remaining in the 1st, instead of the 4th. And had the call been made a fumble at THAT juncture of a game, then I would have commenced yelling at Cruz as I was until I heard the explanation.

    The rule is not new to me, but I am surprised that for ONCE the refs don’t cheat the Giants with a misinterpretation. With all the times we’ve been screwed just since 1997, God knows that getting the benefit (and correct) call was pleasing for once.

  46. brainsmasher says: Oct 4, 2011 4:34 AM

    I thought it was the right call when seeing it live and after hearing the rule I know it was the right call. Because you don’t know the rule or have never seen it applied does not make it a bad rule.

  47. luciano26 says: Oct 4, 2011 5:33 AM

    So the rule hasnt changed since back then when Plex spiked it? You guys got the Plax stuff from a comment I made on Sunday, right? Cant believe I remembered him doing that but its still one of the most boneheaded things I’ve seen in my life even if the refs got it wrong.

  48. 1historian says: Oct 4, 2011 5:41 AM

    no matter what the reason, and I already know I’m insensitive – I’m actually rather proud of it – pro football players look like wimps when they are FORCED to play wearing something pink.

    Pink shoes?

    GIMME A BREAK!!!

  49. nflofficeadmin says: Oct 4, 2011 7:18 AM

    A number of Eli apologists on here… (meh) He’s no Phil Sims. Then again, not many people are.

    Could you see Eli getting fired up and yelling back at Coughlin the way that Phil used to do with Parcells? Phil had the fire..

  50. gcsuk says: Oct 4, 2011 8:42 AM

    yevrag3535 says: Oct 4, 2011 2:34 AM

    Eli blows.
    ——————————————————————–
    Thanks for adding that deep, insightful comment to the conversation. My life is so much more complete after reading it.

  51. gcsuk says: Oct 4, 2011 8:47 AM

    jackbauerqb1 says: Oct 3, 2011 9:23 PM

    Hey GIVE IT UP ALREADY MIKE!! Clearly it was a live ball. The receiver did not “give himself up”. He did a Plexico and thought the play was over. Just like Plex spiked the ball because he thought he was down, Cruz thought he was down. REFS BLEW IT, PLAIN AS DAY. The fact you keep bringing it up probably gives away that you KNOW it was wrong and are just playing devil’s advocaate. PLAY AWAY!!HA HA
    ———————————————————————-
    If you know so much more than everybody else (including every ref and the NFL office itself), then why are you sitting at your computer screaming at a writer from PFT? Why aren’t you in NY running the NFL?

  52. eustus says: Oct 4, 2011 8:50 AM

    Football was more fun when common sense applied to the rule book. I used to know what a catch was. I used to know what a fumble was. Now I have no clue anymore.

    They should change the name of the game to Lawyerball.

  53. prince2123 says: Oct 4, 2011 8:54 AM

    For those of you who disagree with the call — what if, instead of voluntarily releasing the ball, like we can all agree he did — he got up, without being touched, and tossed the ball to the line judge? (Happens virtually every game during a hurry-up offense?!)

    If a Cardinal grabbed the ball out of the line judge’s hand and started running with it…I guess you’d call that a fumble?!

    I would agree if was a fumble if he pulled an Eli against the Eagles, actually fumbling the ball against the ground without being touched. He placed it on the ground. Different story, different intention.

  54. j3ts83 says: Oct 4, 2011 8:56 AM

    beastofeden says:
    Oct 3, 2011 8:02 PM
    Get off JaMARKus Sanchez’s jock.

    Maybe if he were a better QB with a quicker release he wouldn’t have been in that position.
    ________________________________

    Are you really this big of a moron? because Sanchez didn’t release the ball fast enough it is his fault and he deserves a cheap shot from a 350 pound man to the back of the head? stick to your dungeons and dragons.

  55. TheDPR says: Oct 4, 2011 8:58 AM

    Horrible rule. Sure they followed it correctly. That doesn’t make it a good rule.

  56. dawkphan says: Oct 4, 2011 9:37 AM

    Simple , Play to the Whistle. there was no whistle so ball is live.

  57. Justified By God says: Oct 4, 2011 10:35 AM

    Did you see the Stevie Johnson catch that got rules incomplete. That was most certainly a catch.

  58. jakek2 says: Oct 4, 2011 12:38 PM

    Whether you are a Giants’ fan or not, the bottom line is this if you are a fan of fair football….

    There should be NO rules whatsoever that gives referees discretion to judge intent. Such rules can only lead to irregular interpretations.

    Therefore, the NFL needs to clarify the rule to remove discretion from the refs. “intent to give himself up” is not clear. Who even knows what that means? Unless these refs have ESP, there is no way for them to know what was going through Cruz’ head when he went down (and they should NOT be forced to guess). Clear up the rule!

  59. jaymc1988 says: Oct 4, 2011 2:01 PM

    first off let me say how much enjoyment i got out of ngata wrecking sanchez all night…. now on to cruz being a giatns fan i LOVED the call obviously.. that bein said i would be highly highly pissed if i was a cardinal fan BUT it was correct call if u see the video its obvious he gave himself up. he looked right kept goin n when he seen the guy on left comin up about to collide into him and become a giant sandwich gave himself up.. yah the fall looked weird but its a fall anyone w any common sense could tell he gave himself up willingly trying to get down and give gaints a chance to save time! simple as that and thats not a giants fans perspective its someone with some common senses perspective

  60. jaymc1988 says: Oct 4, 2011 2:06 PM

    can we cut slack for refs.. EVERY ref in sports has to make judgement calls, should i throw the flag, is that a penatly, refs has to see stuff in split second timing.. we as fans get the ability to see 5 different angles and replays where the ref gets 1 view, possibly distorted since theres 22 players on the field at one time and no replays to view unless challenged. cut the refs a break if i was a ref i could carless about a critic or fans opinion unless it was blatent biased call. other than that it will always be a judgement call for some calls forever no matter how a rule is worded…give it up n more 2 the next week ppl

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