In our prior post regarding the inability of the Broncos to obtain possession via replay review that would have converted a ruling of an incomplete pass to a determination that the ball had been thrown backward, I mentioned that we were trying to get in contact with former NFL V.P. of officiating (and current FOX rules analyst) Mike Pereira for elaboration on his 140-character-or-less explanation of the rule.
And within minutes, Mike called. Here’s what he said.
After the Hochuli incident, the league decided only to allow possession to be awarded to the defense on replay review as to the question of whether the passer who had thrown an incompletion (per the ruling on the field) actually had fumbled the ball. Pereira explained that the league specifically exempted possible lateral passes because there was a chance that more time would elapse after the whistle blew and before a defender clearly recovered the ball than when a quarterback possibly fumbles.
Pereira said that NCAA rules permit possession to be awarded in those situations, and he acknowledged that the NFL could alter the rules to permit possession to be awarded via replay review. Currently, however, the so-called “Hochuli Rule” applies only to the question of whether the quarterback fumbled the ball while trying to throw it.
The problem in such situations is that players will be diving for a loose ball after the whistle has blown, despite being generally told since pee-wee days to stop all action when the whistle blows. But since the league already has crossed the post-whistle bridge by permitting a possession change via replay review when a runner is ruled “down by contact” and in the “Hochuli Rule” setting, the league should allow the officials to get it right when assessing whether an incomplete pass actually was a fumble recovered by the defense.
If the Steelers win the game, it’s safe to say the rule will be changed.