The worst rule in football reared its ugly heard on Sunday in Kansas City, stinging the Browns on a play that looked like it was going to be a touchdown for Cleveland but ended up being a touchback for the Chiefs.
After the game, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski was asked about the play.
“I will never ever doubt Rashard Higgins’ effort or our guys’ effort,” Stefanski told reporters after the game. “Our rule there is not to reach the ball out when it is first and goal, and he knows that. Again, [I] appreciate his effort. He battled like he always does, but we have to fight that urge because it is such a big loss if it does end up being a touchback.”
Stefanski is right. And the Browns’ internal rule is accurate, given the nonsensical NFL rule that would have given Cleveland possession at the spot of the fumble if it had gone out of bounds at the one-inch line but that gave the Chiefs possession on their own 20 because the ball went into, and out of, the end zone.
The biggest problem with the rule is this: It penalizes effort. Yes, there’s a chance that a fumble into the end zone will be recovered by the defense. If it is, then the defense should get the ball. If it isn’t recovered before it goes out of play, the rule should be no different than it is if the ball goes out of bounds in the 100 yards of green.