Worst rule in football bites Baltimore on Sunday

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It’s the worst rule in football, and the powers-that-be consistently refuse to get rid of it.

You know what it is, if you’re a regular to this Internet destination. Or, as of Sunday, if you’re a Ravens fan.

In a field-position battle that Washington led 13-10 in the third quarter, Baltimore had pinned the visiting team at the one with a punt. Facing second and eight from the three, quarterback Kirk Cousins threw a pass that linebacker C.J. Mosley intercepted and returned toward the end zone.

As Mosley approached the goal line, he reached forward with the ball and lost possession of it. It then rolled into the end zone and out of bounds.

The result? Even though Washington didn’t cause or recover the fumble, they were awarded the ball at their own 20, 18 yards down the field and with a fresh set of downs.

Of course, if the ball had gone out of bounds before breaking the plane of the goal line, Baltimore would have kept possession. So why do the rules give the other team possession at the 20 when the fumble bounces into the end zone before going out of bounds?

It makes no sense, and it’s horribly unfair. Still, rarely if ever has the league made a push to remove it from the rulebook.

Actually, the Ravens may be inclined at this point not to agitate for change. There’s an odd dynamic among NFL teams that if/when an unfair rule strikes, the team on the wrong side of the rule believes that the next time around they’ll benefit from it.

As unfair as the rule is for the team that loses possession in the field of play and sees the ball go out of bounds in the end zone unrecovered, it’s a windfall for the team that goes from being on the verge of giving up six points to getting the ball on its own 20.

64 responses to “Worst rule in football bites Baltimore on Sunday

  1. ‘There’s an odd dynamic among NFL teams that if/when an unfair rule strikes, the team on the wrong side of the rule believes that the next time around they’ll benefit from it.’

    In New England that’s known as the tuck rule princile

  2. what is the alternative on that play? mosley makes a bad play by not holding onto the ball maybe washington gets it at the spot of the fumble?

    in my opinion the worst rule is 15 yard penalty for a receiver lowering his head into contact with the db

  3. “As Mosley approached the goal line, he reached forward with the ball and lost possession of it…”

    It was more like “…reached forward with the ball in one hand without any thought to ball protection and lost possesion of it…”

    This one was more Mosley’s fault than the fault of the rule.

  4. I like the rule – it doesn’t reward idiocy. We have seen many times with players showboating there way into the end zone either to lose control of the ball or have it knocked out from behind negating a score. Makes the player look like an a-hole and rightfully so.

  5. This rule blows, but it’s not as bad as the Officials having to arbitrarily determine if “a football move” has been made subsequent to possession.

    Also, the rule for (perceived) defensive P.I. is too punitive.

  6. It’s a solid rule. I have no problem punishing stupidity like this. And what’s the alternative? Give the ball to the Ravens on the 1? Why? They FUMBLED it through the end zone! Bottom line: don’t fumble the ball through the end zone.

  7. Not sure when the last time you wrote about the rule was, but it happened to Washington last year in September against the Giants. So, it did bite them then come around to help them.

  8. I consider this rule to be sort of an IQ test.

    Don’t want to give the other team possession on their 20? Then maybe you should think about holding onto the frickin’ ball.

  9. The field of play is from the 0 to the 0. The end zones are not part of that, so the regular rules do not apply. This is the second time you’ve been told that, but you don’t listen.

  10. perfect1stranger says:
    Oct 10, 2016 6:15 PM

    Naah it’s a good rule. Football is a game of assaulting and defending goal lines. If you lose the ball behind my line it’s mine.


    While I hate the rule and think it’s completely asinine, I really like the way you worded your argument. You have changed my tune good sir.

  11. maust1013 says:
    Oct 10, 2016 6:03 PM
    ‘There’s an odd dynamic among NFL teams that if/when an unfair rule strikes, the team on the wrong side of the rule believes that the next time around they’ll benefit from it.’

    In New England that’s known as the tuck rule princile

    Yup, in 2001 the Patriots were victimized by a Tuck Rule call fir the Jets during the regular season. But things kind of evened out for the Patriots in the snow bowl playoff game against the Raiders a few weeks later.

  12. Naw, the rule that allows a team to snap the ball before they are set, and catch a “twelfth man on the field” with no penalty to the offense is worse. Since the ball has not legally snapped the twelfth man shouldn’t be illegal. It should be a motion penalty on the offense, not offsetting penalties. Offense created the issue, and the twelfth man is legal until the ball is legally put into play.

  13. THX 138 says:
    Oct 10, 2016 6:59 PM
    Worst rule is Pass Intereference at the spot of the foul. It has ruined many a game. Make it 15 yards and a 1st down.

    This would lead to the disappearance of the long bomb. DB’s would just wrap WRs up every time it looked like it might be completed. 15 yards is much better than 50.

  14. I’ve seen a lot against the pass interference spot foul. IMO it’s a good rule as a spot foul. Professionals shouldn’t need help when getting burned more than 15 yards. Players will try to use skill at stopping the ball from being completed instead of relying on a PI call on deep passes. PI calls will rise if only a 15 yard bailout.

  15. Worst Rule in football is Illegal Contact. How can it be like 3rd and 35, a DB bumps a guy 6 yards downfield on a pattern designed to go 8 yards and they get an automatic 1st down?

  16. perfect1stranger says:
    Oct 10, 2016 6:15 PM

    Naah it’s a good rule. Football is a game of assaulting and defending goal lines. If you lose the ball behind my line it’s mine.


    Include me as a convert!

    I also felt that it was a bad rule.

  17. The rule is the same at all levels of football. HS, college, pro. It’s not a bad rule. Dumbass should have held onto the football.

  18. I have always hated the automatic first down part of defensive holding. The 5 yard penalty bit is fine, but the automatic first down bit is just dumb. It’s too easy for offenses to get bailed out of their own penalties and giving up sacks for something that is often a fairly minor infraction well away from the ball or play.

  19. Another bad one is the touchdown and the safety, where a TD on has to only break the plane of the goal line and to not get a safety the entire ball has to out past the end of the goal line, how about consistent universal rue for the ball at the same line in or out !

    But the Ginger hammer, with the iron fist is still confusing us all with the catch rule, and then there’s 10 year old looking Dean Blandino who looks more like a teamsters or mob boss, then who should be in charge of the 50+ year old officials, who’s just as bad if not worse, and those two alone will ruin this game not the concussions, and has anyone checked either of those two for CTE ? cause they have no clue !

  20. The rule is fair and every player understands the stakes of fumbling near the opponent’s goal line. The unfair rule that should have been called and wasn’t was what Pederson was upset about. There was a free ball and an Eagle who was in no position to recover it, touched while he was out of bounds. If the rule had been called, the ball would have been awarded to the Eagles as the last team with possession of the ball. The problem is that there was a free ball and it’s an unfair advantage for a player to touch the ball while out of bounds to retain possession. If the ball is in play, it should be free for anyone to recover and the whistle should not blow. Fortunately, the officials blew the crappy rule and Detroit recovered.

  21. This rule makes a lot of sense because it compliments the safety. If I tackle you in your own end zone, points to me. If you fumble it out of my end zone, I get it back. Yin meet Yang.

    The worst rule in football is defensive pi due to its highly punitive nature and the lack of an equally harsh counterpart. If the defensive rules stand, than offensive pi should be a loss of down and an equal loss of yards.

  22. I really don’t understand why you have such a problem with this rule. This is a game of possession. If a team fails to possess the ball going into the most important part of the field, they should not be given a second chance.

  23. It is a crazy rule. A team throws an interception and ends up regaining possession and gains an additional 18 yards? How about treat it like a touch back. Let the team that intercepted the ball but fumbled it through the endzone keep possession – just move them back to the 20 (or 25).

  24. blackqbwhiterb says:
    Oct 10, 2016 8:31 PM

    Hold that ball & get tackled, Ravens 1st & goal at the 1 yard line. Mosley was dumb.


    As much as it pains me to say it, that’s all it is. Ball security. If you’re willing to let the ball out of your own hands, then you’re willing to relinquish it. If you want to keep the ball, then die trying.

  25. I’m a Ravens fan. It isn’t the worst rule by far. There are others far more ridiculous. If you plan to reap the reward of reaching forward with one hand on the ball to barely cross the goal line be prepared to accept the risks. Mosley is a stud but this wasn’t a good risk. Nor was going for a fake field goal when you needed to stack points.

  26. Worst rule is that coach must go 2 for 2 in challenges and that if he loses one he is done, though the ref would have screwed up once to put him in such a spot.

  27. It’s a fundamental rule of the boundaries of the game. It’s a great rule. It raises the stakes. I sucks when it happens to you, but it’s fair. Everyone knows the rule. It’s how the game is played. You never played so you just don’t get it. Touchdowns are supposed to be hard.

    Celebration penalties are the worst rule in football – its entertainment. Illegal formation is the worst rule in football- it cuts down on innovation and rewards the simple minded.

  28. Though I agree, I tend to believe the worst rule in football is the receivers feet on the sideline and end line.

    What I mean is, if a receiver is heading toward the sideline, lays out for a ball, secures the catch, and drags his toes, he rightfully gets awarded a catch.

    But, if a player on the back line of the end zone, or on the sideline with his back toward the sideline, leaps, makes a catch, gains possession, gets his toes down in bounds, but then his heels touch down out of bounds it isn’t a catch??? When crossing the goal line the play is over and a TD awarded the second the ball breaks the plane. So why then is it not ruled a TD the second the player, with possession gets his toes down in the end zone? Who cares if his heels touch down out of bounds after? An example, for those watching was the Beckham TD in the back of the end zone in the 4th qtr of the Sunday night game. They reviewed to see if his heels came down on the back line, even though the toes had come down in the end zone.

    I just feel like if you gain possession and get your toes down in bounds, just like dragging the toes on the sideline, it should be a catch.

  29. It’s only a bad rule when it helps the Redskins win.

    We saw no complaints from the media after Rob’s endzone fumble in 2014 or Matt Jones in 2015.

    here’s an idea…DONT FUMBLE THE BALL

  30. kelsey59 says:
    Oct 10, 2016 11:41 PM
    What makes it a stupid rule is the offense can do the same thing and it is considered a touchdown.


    No, that is a touchback for the defense.

  31. RGIII did it in NY 3 years ago and we didn’t cry? But the last two times we beat the Rasinettes they fired their OF coordinator..

    B-more has always been a tough/bully team. But everyone knows when you punch a bully in the mouth??……… They cry….

    Oh yeah. I’m not mad that they win. I just love it when their inferior fans go wild when they lose.

    They want to talk about Redskin fans!?!?!

  32. It is a stupid rule. If this was a playoff game everyone would be yelling and screaming that such an idiotic rule decided a playoff game. If NE lost a playoff game because of this crazy rule the rule would have been changed the next day and they would have played the game over again.

    That ought to get some people going. Watch the fireworks. 🙂

  33. It’s a rule that dates back to rugby, where all rules originated from.

    In rugby the ball gets placed on the 5 meter line for a scrum down with the defending team having the throw in.

    There is no alternative that is better – reward the team that fumbled, that doesn’t make sense.

  34. Na worst rule is holding there is already holding on every single play and the refs just use it as a discretionary way to influence the outcome of games holding should be perfectly legal

  35. If NE lost a playoff game because of this crazy rule the rule would have been changed the next day and they would have played the game over again.


    NE won’t be crying to rules committee like Wah-Baugh already has. Almost funny joke, dude. I half expect to see more rules changes after the Ravens visit the razor this season

  36. If the fumbling team retains possession, where would you spot it? Should the ball be spotted back at their own 20 yard line to start an 80-yard drive? Right now the team awarded possession has to go 80-yards.

  37. Whatever the rule “should” be, it shouldn’t be as it is now. It unfairly penalizes the fumbling team. It should be the same concept as it would be if the ball is fumbled out of bounds. The offense retains the ball. So if the fumble occurs at the 2 yard line and rolls through the back of the end zone, or goes into the end zone and then out of bounds, it should be placed at the 2 yard line, with the offense retaining possession. Why the “powers that be” don’t understand this is beyond my comprehension.

  38. Until you know the basic fundamentals of football rules you will never get this.
    Baltimore fumbled. It went past their goal line and out of bounds.

    Cant give them a TD. Cant bring ball back. There was NO FORCE applied by this ball. The fumble forward was Ravens fault so its opponents ball. And since it ended in the end zone the succeeding spot is the 20. Cant start a play in the end zone, that’s a safety which would be a bad rule.
    This is the only thing it can be.

  39. AND

    Then according to your idea. I can do a scrimmage kick (punt) and kick it out of bounds in the end zone and get the ball back. I was the last team in possession and the opponents did nothing to cause me to put it out of bounds.

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