Illegal batting in Dolphins-Patriots game comes under scrutiny


For the second straight week, a game involving the Patriots included a controversial call.  For the second straight day, a game involving a team from Boston included a call raising questions of intent.

With New England leading 20-17 in the fourth quarter against the Dolphins and facing a second and seven at the Miami 23, quarterback Tom Brady fumbled after getting hit by Dolphins defensive back Jimmy Wilson.  Tackle Nate Solder recovered, way back at the Miami 48.

The ball moved that far down the field because Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon hit the ball while it was loose.

The officials ruled that Vernon had committed an illegal batting of the ball, applying a 10-yard penalty from the line of scrimmage.  Rule 12-4-1(a) explains that an illegal bat occurs if “a player of either team bats or punches a loose ball in the field of play toward his opponent’s goal line.  While Rule 12-4-1(a) doesn’t expressly require intent, Rule 3-2-5(g) defines illegal batting as “the intentional striking of the ball with hand, fist, elbow, or forearm.”

Thus, the rule against batting requires intent, because batting happens only with intent.

“The official on the field what he ruled was that the player batted it forward, which is an intentional act,” Anderson told pool reporter Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Players cannot bat the ball forward.  With it being the defensive team they couldn’t bat it in that direction.  The offensive team likewise could not have batted it forward from their side of the field.”

If Vernon inadvertently had hit the ball in the direction of New England’s goal line while trying to recover it, there could have been no illegal batting because there would have been no batting.  Review of the play from multiple angles suggests that Vernon was trying to hit the ball down the field, away from any Patriots players in the vicinity of Vernon as he lunged toward the ball.

And so it appears to have been the right call.

Even if Dolphins fans would disagree.

70 responses to “Illegal batting in Dolphins-Patriots game comes under scrutiny

  1. The NFL should implement that every penalty called during every single NE game be reviewed. Better yet, every non-call that NE gets away with should be reviewed as well.

  2. Just as with last week, I think the correct call was made, but the penalty is too stiff. 5 yards for both flags seems right to me.

  3. I have no dog in this fight, but it looked to me like he was reaching to make a play to recover the ball and inadvertently hit it.

  4. Anyone with a eyes would agree that it was the wrong call. Anyone with a brain would comprehend that some (a lot) of NFL games are rigged. I love the game of football, and my team, but it’s now becoming obvious. It’s a sad day.

  5. So if a player dives for the ball and does not recover it (it is a batted ball)? Which you could argue happens on every fumble.

    Problem is you cannot differentiate from momentum of the player’s dive at the ball, reaching out (unintentionally not recovering the ball) and then transferring the energy to the ball hitting forward and player purposely doing it. Since it was not physically batting ball or punched. The referees created a grey zone by their ruling.

    I felt it was marginal enough where it should not have been called. (At least in my view) – fan of neither team.

  6. I thought it was a lousy call. It looked to me like he was reaching for the ball and hit it, propelling it forward, but not as batting it forward.

    I’m not a fan of either team, but the refs were SO in the pocket of the Patriots it was ridiculous. Two calls on the Miami secondary were simply dumbfounding.

    It’s one thing to act like Tom Brady is protected by the Golden Fleece, but giving all his receivers a gold shield is a little too much. Point-shaving games in the NCAA have been less obvious.

  7. It looked like there was definitely intent.

    My question is why though? Possession for the dolphins is much bigger than creating a 3rd and impossibly long for the pats…dumb play

  8. Totally disagree. Jim Nantz was absolutely right. Vernon was pushing off the floor with his right hand, and his left hand pushed the ball with the tip of his fingers. It clearly appeared that he was trying to pull it in with his left hand but it was too far away, so naturally he pushed it away instead of pulling it in. There is no way that call should be made unless it is clear that a player swatted at it intentionally. I was upset that Simms did not have the guts to admit he made the same mistake. When shown the replays, he only said that he could see Nantz’s viewpoint, but he is sticking to his initial call that it was intentional, since that is the way it looked in real time. I thought it was a real cop-out.

  9. Looked to me like like a typical hapless attempt by a lineman to grab a loose ball. If I remember correctly, his arm is moving towards him, like he is trying to scoop it in. He just wasn’t close enough. Not a Dolphins fan, I could not care less. Just thought it was a bad call.

  10. Jeez …are you kidding me,,,? Last week BLowhard rex…purposely calls over the REF and says…watch them on this play they “PUSH” and thats a penalty!!!!! So the Ref is standing 10 ft Behind Jones,,,and immediately throws the flag,,(right or wrong)…Jets get 15 yards,,kick again and win the game….IS THAT A GOOD summary?
    Then ESPN reviewed the JETS for the same game and saw them do it TWICE..and not get flagged for it….REALLY REX??? (are you that limp wristed?)
    Fast Forward,,,the miami player DID make contact with the ball,,and his contact swatted it back almost 15 yards….since they are NOT allowed to do that either on offense nor defense,,,the ball comes back. This play happens every week,,as a player fumbles forward,,,and the ball is brought back to the point of the fumble,,,since a fumble cannot advance the ball. swatting the ball and making it travel 15 yards is more than incidental. At that point is played no matter in the game as Miami was crumbling..

  11. Apparently when Miami tried to recover the fumble and the ball got knocked back 20 yards, the officials were like ” oh he’ll no, the pats can’t even hit a field goal from there, nice try though ” I love how you can kick a loose ball out of bounds to avoid a turnover, but if the ball goes flying in an attempt to recover it, you’ve illegally batted it.

  12. Troy Palomalu did the same thing on SNF a few years ago. Al Michaels called it a heads-up play and Cris Collinsworth said, “…except that it’s illegal.”

  13. That call was just as silly as the pi call on wilson on 3rd down that put new england in fg range instead of forcing them to punt.

  14. I really had no stake in the game as I am not a fan of either team, but, from all angles, it appeared to me that he was attempting to get the ball and not intentionally batting it. Therefore, IMO, the call was in error and gave New England a big break at a crucial part of the game in which they won.

  15. I don’t know, he could’ve been trying to reach out & corral the ball with one hand & it would look exactly the same. Hard to say for sure that it was intentional.

  16. Everyone knows the rules don’t apply to the low character cheating new england patriots.

  17. Of course it when NE’s way, like the BS pass-interference earlier in the game. No surprises here… Honestly, I can’t wait for Brady to retire just so the officials will stop favoring him and we can watch a game free of BS calls from the refs.

  18. Intent was not clear from the replays. The officials assumed intent. Horribly called game.

  19. I decided to go back and watch the play again. From my angle, it looked like he couldnt recover it and wanted to give his team a crack at it. Good call. All the analysts including Florio seem to agree. Also, if you watch closely, the official called it immediately – it wasn’t like they conferred and thought about it. But apparently (as you can see above), it’s only a bad call if it benefits the Patriots.

  20. The comments in this post are comical. Yes, the league is fixed because of this call. It was The Illuminati” that made it happen.

    Olivier Vernon clearly “propelled” the ball back about ten yards and he didn’t even deny it after the game. In a phrase we have heard a LOT lately, it’s a silly rule, and rewarding a team a net 34 yards, when they fumbled the ball, is excessive. All that said it was the correct call and if you just watch the video it is pretty clear he did it. If Fins fans want to be pissed they should be pissed about the earlier PI call. That was horrible.

    Just like the Pats – Jets game last week, it was a tough call, but the league is not “fixed”. Get the tin foil off your head!

  21. Conveniently, everyone forgets about that Rob Gronkowski TD that was called back on a questionable call.

  22. If you swing at the ball so hard that you knock it 15 yards down field, I dont think you could possibly argue that he was doing anything other than batting the ball. When a player typically dives on a ball and comes up empty, the ball doesnt travel 15 yards (after he “batted” the ball it looked like a friggin onsides kick…). That would be like a receiver going up for the ball and swatting it into the 3rd row and saying, “well, I was just trying to catch it”. There was 1 Patriot player, and 4 Dolphins chasing the fumble. He knew if he came up with the ball he was immidiately going to be down by contact, so he figures he can swat it forward, and then it becomes 3 Dolphins chasing the ball and no Patriots players. It was a gamble, and it didnt work out. “He was trying to corral the ball”… Get the F out of here. The only thing more obvious would have been a closed fist, LMFAO

  23. Listen the only way you would be able to differentiate batting of the ball or trying to gain possession is if you were in Vernons head. It was an awful call and the results took the Dolphins completely out of a game they were trying desperately to hold on to keeping within reach. If you can’t see the difference you don’t make the call. All you Pats fans that are saying it was the right call are equivalent to the Jets fans that were telling you the same thing last week.

  24. If I was the Dolphins I’d cut Vernon. Reading most of these posts the argument is simple physics. For some strange reason Vernon was reaching for the ball and it somehow propelled itself 15 to 20 yards away. He obviously has some genetic property that forces the ball away from him…….or he simply whacked the ball down field, which is illegal.

  25. Again i will say, if this same call was made against the pats there’d be a Media outcry they got hosed. Miami is just a middle of the pack team so who cares right? Most ppl that arent wearing red,white, and blue shades can see that it was a bad call. Intent wasnt clear and you should not make a call like in what was a close game. Players should decide the game, not the refs.
    Anyone who watched the game the refs were horrible and were called out on multiple occasions by the announcers. So how can anyone not agree this was one of the worst, if not THE worst officiated game of the year.

  26. The penalty for the infraction is what really bothers me — 10 yards AND an automatic first down? The punishment doesn’t even remotely fit the crime. Give them five yards from the spot of the foul and replay the down. If I were the offense and got 5 yards, a replay of the down, AND, most importantly, possession of the ball back after I fumbled, I would be absolutely ecstatic.

  27. .

    The official had to make the call in real time without replay. Because the ball traveled so far, it looked more like a bat than an attempt to recover when watching live .

    However, this was not the game’s final play. The Dolphins had several opportunities to recover, but generated very little offense in the second half.


  28. harrisonhits2 says: Oct 28, 2013 9:27 AM

    Lol @ the poor Pats haters. You’re like a bunch of insects flapping around. Lol

    What are you… 12 years old? Because that’s what’s your lol-filled post looks like. Please leave the conversation to the adults, thank you.

    This call was yet another example of the NFL trying to protect the Patriots and Golden Boy himself, Tom Brady. Amazing how it takes the Pats to bring out little-known rules. The Tom Brady Rule II, anyone?

  29. Call the wahhhhmbulance Dolphins fans! Just like you were saying to us last week. Try not getting out scored 24-0 in the second half, turning it over 3 times and getting your QB sacked 6 times. The mediocrity continues in Miami, sorry. At least you guys have the weather.

  30. luckyarmpit says: Oct 28, 2013 10:34 AM

    harrisonhits2 says: Oct 28, 2013 9:27 AM

    Lol @ the poor Pats haters. You’re like a bunch of insects flapping around. Lol

    What are you… 12 years old? Because that’s what’s your lol-filled post looks like. Please leave the conversation to the adults, thank you.

    This call was yet another example of the NFL trying to protect the Patriots and Golden Boy himself, Tom Brady. Amazing how it takes the Pats to bring out little-known rules. The Tom Brady
    Rule II, anyone?

    So how was the league protecting the Pats last week? Pokes a hole in your ridiculous theory that the league wants the Patriots to win.

  31. @luckyarmpit,

    Maybe if the Pats haters acted older than a 5 year old throwing a tantrum in every single thread about the Pats I might respond at a different level. But in general they discount every thing negative that effects the Pats as if it doesn’t exist, and emphasize everything that happens in the Pats favor like its some horrible injury caused on purpose to the other team.

    You people act like the Pats never have calls go against them and it happens all the time just like to other teams.

    Whining about the refs, the last refuge of a fan who doesn’t want to accept that their team just didn’t play well enough. The Fins had plenty of opportunities to stop the Pats from scoring, and to put more points of their own up on their board. Maybe if they’d played well they would have won. Instead they threw the 2nd half out the window and choked.

  32. I’m not a Dolphins fan at all, and I thought the call was blatant BS that fit in nicely with all the other blatantly BS calls the refs made to help the Pats in the second half. A disgrace.

  33. Being a Dolphins fan has not been easy since 2000, however a true fan will stick with his team.

    Having said that, yesterday’s game was the very first time that I’ve turned off a game before it was over (I live in a non-Dolphins market, and therefore must purchase the Sunday Ticket to watch the games). I’ve done so since the Sunday Ticket came out.

    I turned it off because it became evident that this game was skewed towards New England, and it was clear that New England was destined to win the game. Not due to talent, but due to interference. By the officials.

    Case in point: The game began with Miami dominating the field. By the end of the first half, Miami led in all aspects, including the score. Watching Tom Brady, both while on the field and while on the sidelines (the networks have a love affair with Brady and can’t keep their cameras away from him, just like Peyton Manning), it was clear that he seemed “bored”, and was waiting for the second half to begin. It was almost like he was phoning it it, waiting for the score to go up by a couple of TDs.

    As a former sports official, I like to think that the integrity of the game comes before anything else. I’m saddened to think that game officials could actually take orders from “upstairs” as to determining the outcome of the game. Yesterday really left no doubt that the league want’s the Patriots to remain “the favorite”.

    I’m not a Patriot “hater”. Quite the contrary. Up to yesterday, I respected the organization, the coach, the players. When it’s playoff time and Miami is out, I become a Patriots fan. Now I question all that. Now I wonder if it’s all just a great make-believe story. Now I wonder if my impression of Brady as being overrated might not be so farfetched after all.

    Yesterday’s game between the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots was as real as a WWE SmackDown event. And I thought I saw Vince McMahon in one of the suites directing the action.

    In the words of Denny Green “You want to crown their a**? Then crown them!” Don’t waste people’s money making them believe they are watching a fair contest.

  34. Love how all the Miami fans blame the refs for the Dolphins 7th straight loss to the Pats. Three turnovers, a missed FG and 6 sacks are fine, in a road division gm, no problem. It’s those darn refs and the NFL rigging gms. I guess when you lose that many seasons in a row, you develop that loser mentality. Whine away phins fans.

  35. Check The Game Film! At about 6:04 in the second quarter the Patriots were given a HUGE pass interference call, keeping their drive and momentum going and they scored a field goal as a result. Even the unbiased announcers commented on how bad the call was.

    With :47 seconds left in the second quarter the referees decided to help the Patriots out against by calling another suspicious call against the Dolphins. Again, this penalty helped keep the Patriots drive alive and they ended up scoring, and again the unbiased announcers questioned the call.

    In the 4th quarter with about 8:45 left in the game Brady was sacked and the ball was recovered by the Patriots for a huge loss. The play was over. Then, 18 seconds AFTER the play was over the announcers said, “Wait, they just threw a penalty flag.” How is it legal for any referee to throw a flag that late?

    The NFL is as fixed as boxing and the Patriots have a Don King-like figure in their corner every week making sure that they win.

    There should be an investigation, period.

  36. dolphinsfreak says:
    Oct 28, 2013 11:31 AM
    Check The Game Film! At about 6:04 in the second quarter the Patriots were given a HUGE pass interference call, keeping their drive and momentum going and they scored a field goal as a result. Even the unbiased announcers commented on how bad the call was.

    With :47 seconds left in the second quarter the referees decided to help the Patriots out against by calling another suspicious call against the Dolphins. Again, this penalty helped keep the Patriots drive alive and they ended up scoring, and again the unbiased announcers questioned the call.


    Calling BS dolphinsfreak!!!! The Pats kicked a field goal with 6:12 remaining in the first half. Thye ended the half with only 3 points. Yet, you just identified TWO Patriots scoring drives that were aided by officiating… The Dolphins kicked a field goal with 3:13 remaining in the half (making it 17-3), and that was the end of the first half scoring. You are just making sh_t up. When you are caught, all credibility is lost. The best part is that you have people giving you a thumbs up, you have got to be kidding me

  37. Last week a controversial call burns the Patriots on a critical end of game play.

    This week we’re back to the officials favoring the Patriots in every game.

    Do you people even listen to yourselves? You sound like fools.

  38. Whining about the refs when you get dominated 24-0 in a half, turning it over 3 times, getting sacked 6 times, missing a field goal, and having another field goal blocked is just laughable.

    So cute watching Dolphins and Jets fans act like they have a chance in the division against us only to come crashing down time and time again realizing their team stinks yet another year. At least Bills fans accept that fact at this point.

  39. I’m a Cowboy’s fan so I have my own issues…no sides taken here.

    To the naked eye at full speed, it was a batted ball; replay introduced “reasonable doubt.”

    Tough call.

  40. AHAHAHA!! The only people that do not think the Patriots had the advantage in the game because the referees where doing what they could to help them win are Patriots fans. And, they are the only people that are hitting the thumbs down button on the posts where people saw the blatant bad calls and call BS.

    The announcers would even hit the thumbs up button because they were there, they are no for either team, and they announced on air the they were ALL bad calls.

    There were 3-4 bad calls in the game, game changing calls, but it is routine in a Patriots game and people are just immune to it because Goodell and the refs are doing what they can try and keep the Patriots as contenders.

    Brady’s passer rating this year is at the bottom of the league but they “mysteriously” keep winning. I doubt this has anything to do with officiating. :-O

  41. The NFL should be ashamed of its referee crew at Gillette stadium yesterday. Three flagrant terrible calls which favored the Patriots at the Dolphins expense.
    I will grant you we got outplayed in the second half, but any fair minded individual should be shocked at this bias. What are your employees doing Roger Goodell? Do you approve of this?

  42. dolphinsfreak says: Oct 28, 2013 12:54 PM

    Brady’s passer rating this year is at the bottom of the league but they “mysteriously” keep winning. I doubt this has anything to do with officiating. :-O


    Maybe it has something to do with that 5th ranked pass defense and 5th ranked defense in points allowed. 3 forced turnovers and 6 sacks yesterday. But, we’ll go with your theory. The refs wanted the Pats to win. Smh.

  43. Olivier Vernon did not deny batting the ball away. All he had to say was that he was trying to reel it in, but he didn’t.

    Pats’ OL Marcus Cannon was a split second behind him, and when Vernon hit the ground he batted the ball to keep Cannon from recovering. Probably an instinctive, but consequential move.

    Dolphins fans were angry with Wallace’s stone hands, Gibson out, Sherman going away from the run game in the 2nd half even though the Pats couldn’t stop it; Tannehill getting sacked six times in the second half; A strip-sack and Patriot fumble recovery; Not being able to stop the Pats’ run game in the 2nd half; A blocked field goal… etc… but they insist they lost because of the biased refs who obviously have been paid off by the Krafts (or is it Brady-love? I forget). The same refs that took away a Gronkowski touchdown that would have put the game away.


  44. There was no way he was going to reach that ball to recover it and he knew that. He just put on his best acting job thinking he wouldn’t get called for batting it. He was probably coached on doing that.

  45. Although most Patriots haters paid no notice the NFL admitted they were calling pushing on the Patriots (on the final pivotal play) but not when the Jets were pushing.

    That may have cost the Patriots the game.

    Even if the NFL flubbed the call on illegal batting the Fins, who allowed 24 unanswered points, can’t really blame anyone but themselves

  46. Poor Patriots fans. I really feel sorry them. They need to CHEAT to win. They need the help of the referees to win football games since they are not allowed to video tape other teams anymore.

    Have the Patriots won anything worth mentioning since they got caught CHEATING?



  47. Everyone blatantly ignoring the fact that Olivier Vernon made a moton to corrall the ball, not swat it….. What we actually see when watching the play, is his open hand try to reach for the ball, and then his arm hinged back in an attempt to possess it. In trying to reach behind the bouncing ball to hug it, it hit his hand and went flying. Now even if he did swat the loose ball, it most certainly shouldn’t have nullified the sack on 3rd and long. That’s the part that’s just completely wrong. The sack/ forced fumble was legit. Whatever foul happens there after should only affect possession, field position.

  48. dolphinsfreak says: Poor Patriots fans. I really feel sorry them. They need to CHEAT to win. They need the help of the referees to win football games since they are not allowed to video tape other teams anymore.

    Have the Patriots won anything worth mentioning since they got caught CHEATING?




    This, my friends, is the happiest Dolphins fans will ever be – somehow trying to spin a Dolphins loss into a conspiracy theory that THEY were the better team (who simply allowed 24 unanswered points.)

    They apparently know nothing about Spygate (an issue of the placement of the signal filming cameras that all teams use)

    They also seem oblivious to the fact that THEY have not been to a Super Bowl since the end of NASA’s Apollo Program in the early 1970s.

    They shouldn’t point fingers either – their “perfect season” has an asterisk with the team losing their first round pick that year as a result of cheating to bring in Don Shula

  49. If a new NFL Commissioner (let’s call him Monte Hall) told fans that their was a new car behind one of three doors, each with a reference to the Patriots, and that each fan could win the car by choosing the door with the one true statement — #1: The Patriots win because the invisible man in sky favors the Patriots. #2: The Patriots win because the devil makes the officials help only the Patriots who he favors because they cheat. #3: The Patriots win when the earn the victory on the field; I swear half of you would vote #1 or #2.

  50. Asterisk? What asterisk? Another moron trying to revise history – the first round pick was the cost of Shula going to Miami not the penalty. I guess you missed that day in class – if you ever attended. In case “6 pack” was into his 5th brew of the evening – Miami was in SB17&19 which was well beyond the Apollo Program – another laspe in your historical timeline. Brush up on history a bit trilobite. By the way I know it still hurts your entry into perfectville was denied by my beloved Giants – so I understand your pain.

  51. JoeFatBoy thinks that the NASA’s Apollo Program ended in the 80’s when Marino and Montana played in the Super Bowl against each other.

    New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was fined the NFL maximum of $500,000 Thursday and the Patriots were ordered to pay $250,000 for spying on an opponent’s defensive signals.

    Commissioner Roger Goodell also ordered the team to give up its first-round draft choice next year if it reaches the playoffs this season, or its second- and third-round picks if it misses the postseason.

    “This episode represents a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid long-standing rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field,” Goodell said in a letter to the Patriots.

    They couldn’t use a SnowPlow often enough so they resorted to videotaping.

    Karama is catching up to the Patriots since they haven’t won anything since they were caught CHEATING. AHAHA

    Brady’s passer rating is lower than the Jaguars quarterback. AHAHA

  52. As a Fin fan we just choked in the second half yeah there was some bad calls I agree but that’s just part of the game good teams overcome that I am as huge of a fan of Tannehill as anyone but the guy needs to stop turning the ball over in crucial moments his pocket pressence is horrbible and he fumbles probably 1 in every 4 sacks like I said there was some bad calls but that’s every game every team the refs just suck and most teams really get home field advantage even with replays Rishard Matthews catch on the sideline for instance are you gonna tell me nobody had a better camera angle on the catch then the 1 miami was givin to look at I’m just say tides turn miami will get some bad calls go tier way as well in the future

  53. Some people are trying to talk physics here about the force of his hand as it hit the ball. Unfortunately, those people are forgetting that his arm was not creating the force – it was his body. The reason the ball traveled 15 yards down the field was not because he swung real hard at the ball but because a 268 lbd defensive lineman launched his body toward it in an attempt to recover the football. The proof is in his hand. He strikes the ball with the palm of his hand and the ball goes forward, but as he lands on the ground the follow through of his hand comes toward his body. That is proof that the player was trying to scoop the ball toward his body, not away, but instead the force created from his body was to much and the ball was propelled forward. A player trying to swat the ball does not tuck his arm toward himself as he lands. He leaves his arm extended to create maximum force. Think of it like swinging a tennis racket. To exert maximum force you wouldn’t hinge your elbow and bring the racket toward your chest, you would keep your arm extended as long as possible on the follow through. The way Vernon hinges his elbow and moves his hand toward his chest shows that his intent was to scoop the ball into his body, not bat it down the field.

  54. Arguing about that call is pointless. Nobody is going to change their mind.

    Based on the rule cited above, why was the interception not flagged? The DB could not catch it himself and “batted” the ball forward to his teammate who controlled the ball in bounds? That was a great play by the Pats. Just wondering why it is legal (the intent was clearly to bat the ball to a teammate who was technically forward towards their goal) and the attempted recovery was illegal because the ball went so far.

  55. It makes no difference whatsoever if the guy was trying to “corral” the ball or not.

    The language of the rule states that “intent” is required. His striking of the ball was not “inadvertent” so therefore it was “intended”. The “intent” requirement of the rule is satisfied and the ball went the wrong way. The fact that he muffed the swipe is irrelevant. The penalty was correct. Case closed.

    Also, to answer your question FinFan68, that “batted” ball you refer to wasn’t a “loose ball”, as the rule refers to, it was a pass.

  56. In slow motion, and because they don’t show just how hard he batted the ball, it looks like he may have been trying to recover it, but at full speed, when you see the impact and the trajectory of the ball, it’s clear he was trying to keep it away from the patriot that was about to recover the ball, in hopes another Dolphin player would outrace the slower patriot offensive lineman, and recover the ball. The bonus would be it was now 20 yards closer to the endzone for the Dolphins. It was the correct call. Anyone watching it as it happened could see that.

    There was another call on the Dolphins that was questionable, that was immediately more than made up for by calling a penalty on the Gronkowski touchdown. It was a makeup call, and it cost the Patriots much more than the initial penalty had cost the Dolphins.

    The whining is irrelevant, because the Dolphins just absolutely crumbled in the second half once the Patriots pressured the QB. They got shut out 24-0 in the second half. Nothing to complain about here.

  57. @gimmeabruschi,
    That was weak as far as intent. The intent in this case is whether he intended to corral the ball or simply knock it away. It is absolutely relevant but based on the footage certainty cannot be claimed by either side.

    As for your statement about it being a pass: I thought the same thing as well, until I looked up the definition of a loose ball. Here it is directly quoted from the rulebook–
    Article 3 A Loose Ball is a live ball that is not in player possession, i.e., any kick, pass, or fumble. A loose ball that has not yet struck the ground is In Flight.”

    I ask again, why wouldn’t the penalty for illegal batting have applied there? That call would have given the Dolphins the ball deep in Pats territory and on that play the intent was absolutely certain.

  58. Interesting question finfan.
    A loose ball does not quite apply here because, as you said, it is in flight, not yet touching the ground.
    Once the ball touches the ground, although it is still live, more rules come into play.
    For instance. A fumbled ball cannot be advanced from that spot unless picked up by the player that fumbled. Otherwise, I could bunce the ball off the turf or drop and kick it in your direction and you could pick it up and run.
    A loose ball from a pass is a different matter. There are few rules about this. As long as the ball hasn’t touched the ground or been consideded caught, I could bounce it around on my knees for a half hour and kick it to you.
    Of course, for that to work, the defense would have to be as dumbfounded as was Dallas the other day. I mean, not only did they allow the Lions Qb to jump up and hold the ball over the line, but he then ran the ball around and into the endzone just to make sure. He got the ball into the endzone twice and only one defensive player reacted to the second strike.

  59. I forgot to mention this in my reasoning. Fumbles and forward passes are both loose balls. The difference is that a pass becomes a dead ball by rule when it hits the ground. A fumble remains classified as a loose ball until someone establishes possession or the ball goes out of bounds. Absent an exception, the rule that went against Miami on the fumble should have been applied to the interception as well.

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