Russell Wilson: Key lateral felt like it went backward

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Sunday night’s win by Seattle over the Eagles included a key moment when quarterback Russell Wilson flipped the ball to running back Mike Davis in an effort to convert a key third-down play when the Seahawks were up only by seven points.

Though it looked like a lateral at full speed, closer inspection seemed to show the ball moving backward before curling forward. On PFT Live, Wilson (an accomplished baseball player) was asked to put the play in baseball terms.

“That was a ball hit in the middle of the line, playing second base you gotta go up and get it with the glove and pitch it to shortstop at second base,” Wilson said. “He flips it over the bag, gets it to first base, double play, bang.”

In football terms, Wilson believes it was a lateral.

“The thing was I kept moving forward so that’s why obviously it definitely felt — it felt like it was backward to me,” Wilson said. “Everybody was concerned whether it was forward or not, but it definitely felt backward to me. It was a cool play; I know that. That was fun.”

Making it more fun (for the home team) was the ability of the Seahawks to get to their next play before the Eagles realized that a challenge flag was in order. And it’s clear that, if the Eagles had thrown the red handkerchief, the play would have been overturned.

The rule book defines a forward pass as happening when “the ball initially moves forward (to a point nearer the opponent’s goal line) after leaving the passer’s hand(s)” OR when “the ball first touches the ground, a player, an official, or anything else at a point that is nearer the opponent’s goal line than
the point at which the ball leaves the passer’s hand(s).” So even if the ball initially moved backward, it was first touched by Davis at a point nearer the opponent’s goal line than the point at which it left Wilson’s hand, it was still a forward pass.

And if it had been overturned on replay review, who knows whether the Eagles would have come back to win the game?

22 responses to “Russell Wilson: Key lateral felt like it went backward

  1. I’m sure it did, because he did attempt to throw it backwards. However, it wasn’t enough to completely counteract his forward velocity, and the ball was caught ahead of where he released it. There’s no other way to write the rule, either – can you imagine the nightmare of a ref trying to make a judgment call on whether the runner “attempted” to pitch the ball backwards? As it is now, you look at where it was released and where it was caught, and it’s cut and dry.

  2. P.S. – it’s a moot point – the Eagles weren’t beating the Seahawks, regardless. Wentz & Co. choked hard.

  3. Watched a great Rugby clip on this subject. If the pass/lateral was backwards, it doesn’t matter runner caught it past the line where it was released. A forward traveling ball won’t just magically stop it’s momentum.

  4. It was forward but the Eagles D left Wilson so open and he was moving so fast he pitched it backward but momentum brought it forward

    I think we should have a lengthy discussion on the law of physics. lets get some scientists involved and get Wilson suspended for for games

  5. The rule needs to be changed. The speed at which the players are running shouldn’t be considered if it was backward or forward. Wilson lateraled the ball backward….the ball’s forward momentum made Davis catch the ball further down field than where Wilson released it. But Wilson still did toss the ball backward from his position on the field.

  6. It’s a simple modification to the rule. Once the runner passes the line of scrimmage(and not behind the line of scrimmage) the ball handler must be ahead of the player receiving the ball throughout the duration of the pitch. If this was a forward pass, Oklahoma would have to forfeit the majority of their games in the 70’s and 80’s. They lived off that play.

  7. I wonder how many laterals in the past have travel forward and were missing due to a lack of technology?

  8. The ball only moved forward. No curling, not initially backward. Looked like a lateral at full speed.

  9. I believe Wilson attempted a lateral & believed he was successful (per the explanation given about his travel/momentum etc.). Realtime I thought it was close. Replayed, forward pass, no doubt. How I/we could see that replay at home, before the next snap & the Eagles staff didn’t, is on them.

    Perhaps they didn’t want to wager a loosing a timeout, considering the fabulous job the replay officials have been doing as of late? I wouldn’t blame them.

    Revise this rule? How about define a catch first? Consistently applying existing rules as-they-are???

    It should have been challenged & ruled a forward pass.

    -Seahawks fan since ’78.

  10. Newsflash: The Earth rotates, and that was the reason for the “forward” location/catch of the ball.

    Eagle’s lost…get over it.

  11. Eagles outgained them handily, fumbled at the goal line to tie the game and missed the chance to challenge the illegal pass. Not saying they deserved to win but saying they were manhandled is just dumb.

  12. The Hawks put the beatdown on the Eagles….wouldn’t have made a difference.


    Eagles out-gained the Hawks by over 100 yards and had 5 more first downs and more TOP. The Eagles need to capitalize on their opportunities better but If hardly call that a beat down lol.

  13. He tossed the ball backward at a speed less than the speed he was going forward, so the ball continued to travel forward. Physics anyone??

  14. The Rules Committee may not have anticipated players with the athleticism of Russell Wilson, but now that they’ve seen it, they need to change the rule.

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