Giants receiver Rueben Randle almost made one of the bonehead plays of the year in the NFL, but the officials bailed him out.
In the third quarter of Thursday night’s game at Chicago, Randle caught a pass from Eli Manning and appeared to have a path toward the end zone, but as he tried to turn upfield, he slipped on the Soldier Field grass and fell to the ground. Frustrated, he slammed the ball to the turf.
One problem: He hadn’t been touched down when he slammed the ball to the turf, and Bears cornerback Isaiah Frey alertly grabbed the ball. Unfortunately for the Bears, the officials blew the whistle and said Randle had given himself up. Bears coach Marc Trestman tried to challenge, but when a player is ruled to have given himself up, that’s not reviewable.
NFL Network was televising the game and quickly brought on head of officiating Dean Blandino to defend the officials.
“It was the proper call,” Blandino said.
Rule 7, Section 2, Article 1 (e) states that “an official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended when a runner is out of bounds or declares himself down by falling to the ground, or kneeling and making no effort to advance.”
But I don’t believe Randle was declaring himself down when he fell to the ground, any more than Robert Griffin III was declaring himself down when he fell to the ground in Week Three, losing a fumble on a rule that Griffin later decried as “stupid.” Randle didn’t take a knee or go into a feet-first slide, the way players typically do when giving themselves up. He simply had a mental lapse and dropped the ball when he shouldn’t have. The officials saved him from himself, and helped the Giants.