One of these years, the NFL needs to take a look at one of the worst rules in the game.
In Tampa on Saturday night, Buccaneers quarterback of the past and future (but not present) Mike Glennon found rookie wideout Mike Evans on third and 15. Evans, from Texas A&M, ran like his former college quarterback through the Miami defense to complete a 42-yard play.
The ruling on the field was a touchdown, but replay showed that Evans had fumbled the ball before breaking the plane. It landed in the end zone and then rolled out of bounds before anyone recovered it. By rule, however, it’s not a touchdown but a touchback.
It’s a horrible rule. If the ball had gone out of bounds at the one-inch line, possession would have stayed with the Buccaneers. But because the ball crossed the plane, failure to recover by the offense and failure to recover by the defense became an automatic recovery for the defense.
If the defense, which has surrendered enough field position to put the offense on the doorstep of the end zone, fails to recover tha fumble and the ball goes in the end zone and then out of the end zone, then the defense shouldn’t be rewarded with possession. If the same thing happens anywhere else on the field (except in the offense’s own end zone), the offense keeps the ball. Taking the ball away simply because the ball came loose and entered the end zone and exited the end zone makes no sense.