Before the 2018 season, we noted that a significant rule change wasn’t getting enough attention. That rule change will get plenty of attention today among Washington fans.
The rule change is that a head-first dive is now treated the same way as a feet-first slide, and so a quarterback who dives into the end zone is considered to have given himself up. And that’s exactly what happened to Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke today.
On a third-and-goal in the third quarter, Heinicke ran toward the goal line and had a clear path to the end zone. He could have run in and scored on his feet, but he might have taken a hit as he crossed the goal line, so he decided to dive into the end zone.
But under the NFL rules, a quarterback who’s diving is treated the same way as a quarterback who’s sliding. Although the officials ruled a touchdown on the field, on replay they correctly changed it to Heinicke giving himself up inside the 1-yard line.
That was an incredibly costly call against Washington, because on the next play, fourth-and-goal, Heinicke tried a quarterback sneak and got stuffed at the line of scrimmage.
It’s a rule a lot of fans don’t know, and a rule Heinicke — who did a Lambeau Leap, thinking he had scored — doesn’t seem to know. And that was costly for Washington.