Take note NFL: XFL, USFL to dump the worst rule in football

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) fumbles the ball as he attempts to score a touchdown while being tackled by Dallas Cowboys' Jeff Heath (38) in the fourth quarter of their NFL game at the Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. Dal
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When Homer Simpson believed his heart would soon explode due to the ingestion of the venom of a poison blowfish, he imparted three pieces of advice to his son, Bart. Specifically, Homer shared three sayings for getting by in any workplace setting.

One, “Cover for me.” Two, “Great idea, boss.” And, three, “It was like that when I got here.”

That last line becomes the best excuse for the NFL’s adherence to the outdated rule that makes a fumble in the field of play that exits the end zone a turnover, with the defense getting the ball at its 20.

My assault on the rule is one of the chapters in Playmakers. I won’t rehash my complete and total hatred of the rule here. It’s stupid. It’s dumb. It’s nonsensical. It’s counterintuitive. If the ball goes out of bounds at the one-inch line, the offense gets possession at the spot of the fumble. If it touches the goal line before going out of bounds, the defense gets possession — not at the spot of the fumble but with 20 yards of free field position.

Via the folks at FootballZebras.com (who actually like the rule, referring derisively to those who properly regard it as an abomination as “the mob”), the XFL and UFSL will adopt the proper version of this rule for 2023. Possession reverts to the offense at the spot of the fumble.

The only defense to the NFL’s version of the rule is that’s the way it’s always been. So what? Once upon a time, a pass that landed incomplete in the end zone also triggered a touchback for the defense. And that rule went away.

The fact that the Competition Committee has never seriously considered changing the rule doesn’t count as an endorsement of it. If/when that rule ever is applied when more than 100 million people are watching the Super Bowl, it will change before the next season. Guaranteed.

That’s how the NFL rolls. Ignore a problem that’s hiding in plain sight until it creates an embarrassment that forces a change. The NFL is typically reactive, not proactive, regarding the flaws in its rulebook.

There’s another reason why there hasn’t been a groundswell to change the rule. For every team that is screwed by its application, another team benefits.

The game would benefit by ditching this rule. Good for the XFL and USFL to embrace reason and common sense. Hopefully, the NFL will wake up and change the rule — before it’s applied in a Super Bowl and millions of casual, drive-by fans express dismay, followed by outrage.

104 responses to “Take note NFL: XFL, USFL to dump the worst rule in football

  1. The end zone is different then the rest of the field. The offense should not get the ball if they fumble it out of bounds in the end zone. The ball has to go to the defense here and they should get a touch back. Why should the offense not get punished for losing the ball? To just give them the ball there isn’t the right move here. They made a mistake where the game has the highest stakes, makes no sense to give them the ball back after a crucial mistake there. If you have ever defended your own goal line you would understand.

  2. What happens if the fumble is in the endzone, I’m guessing that would be a safety but it’s unsaid here?

  3. I was hoping this referred to the insane 1,000 part process of determining a catch. But this is good too.

  4. The only rule that should be a priority is one which a player gets a full week of rest between games. Stop the Monday, Thursday, Saturday nonsense.

  5. While this rule is bad, I think the half the distance to the goal is much worst. Incentivizes backed up offenses to hold at will when they’re only going to lose 1-5 yards. Absolutely dumb rule. Ball should go to the 1.

  6. Disagree. Not with your position Mike though I think fumbling into the end zone is a major gaff. The worst rule is the spot foul on defensive pass interference. 55 yard penalties??? The punishment is far more severe than the foul.

  7. Or don’t fumble near the goal line. Also it doesn’t happen enough to need a rule change.

  8. I actually don’t have the problem with the rule. It increases the risk vs the reward of stretching out for a TD.

    The absolute WORST rule in the NFL is when a player steps out of bounds, then fields a kickoff, it counts as a kick out of bounds and the team gets the ball at the 40. Doesn’t happen often, but it should be a dead ball at the spot of the touch.

  9. Once the NFL gets rid of the even dumber rules that protect scrambling quarterbacks (the slide rule, for example), then they can turn their attention to the more obscure ones like this.

  10. the worst rule in football is the one where the refs can determine what a catch is based on game situation

  11. David Muehlhausen says:
    February 15, 2023 at 11:16 am
    Or don’t fumble near the goal line. Also it doesn’t happen enough to need a rule change.

    Derick Carr might disagree.

  12. Stop coming up with perceived flaws, there is nothing wrong with this rule as is. If you don’t want to chance losing it then don’t reach for the goal line, some teams know this and some teams don’t.

  13. How often is THIS really an issue in a game! Just wondering because I’ve been watching football since 1965 and I’ve seen it maybe……. twice? Just sayin ….

  14. The worst “rule” in football is automatic 1st down on 5 yard penalties. If the 5 yards will give them the 1st, sure. If it’s a 4 and 25, why, exactly, should a 5 yard penalty result in a automatic 1st down? Is it just me, or do offenses not need any more help than the NFL rule book already gives them?

  15. Forest throught the trees. Defense is incredibly handcuffed these days. This is one of hte few advantages they have over the offense.

    If PFT hates this rule, then what about change of possession on a muffed punt? The receiver never actually possessed the ball, yet the offense can recover it and gain possession. Same exact thing.

  16. The rules are already skewed to the offense enough, thrown the defense a bone! I like the rule as is. It’s easy to avoid this problem, don’t be loosey goosey with the ball near the end zone.

  17. Just another rule change to benefit the offense. Maybe don’t fumble the ball out the endzone and you don’t have to worry about it.

  18. So a live fumble sitting in the endzone has 3 outcomes: 1. Offense jumps on ball taking possession- Score. 2. Defense jumps on ball taking possession- Touchback , 3. Offense kicks, bats, swipes ball away from field of play and starts over at “original line of scrimmage” ?????

  19. Why is the goal line treated differently than any other boundary (sideline/endline) on the field?! It should always be where your feet are, not the ball – just like catching a pass at the sideline or endzone. So I have a modest proposal that would eliminate all the pesky issues around the goal line and touchdown vs touchback: a touchdown at the goal line only counts if the player’s FEET are in the endzone while he possesses the ball (ball doesn’t have to actually cross the goal line). Y’all can thank me later for saving the game…

  20. Changing the rule immediately after Derek Carr leaves the Raiders would be one of the most NFL things ever.

  21. My immediate thought when I read the headline was no longer making defensive pass interference a spot foul.

  22. If a team fumbles close to the goal line and the ball exits the end zone, fine it’s a turnover. But the spot should either be at the 1 yard line or where the fumble occurred. No need to reward a team with decent field position right after they allowed the other team to make it that close to their goal line.

  23. I would keep the rule but change it to be only the back of the endzone. If it goes out the back it’s a turnover. if it goes out the side it’s the same as any other side line and you get the ball at the spot of the fumble. The pylon fumbles are stupid.

    The back of the endzone however I like. Keep that part of the rule.

  24. Define ‘fumble’. I can see a RB who is at the 8 yard line ‘fumble’ the ball all the way to the 1 yard line. I could also see OFF players being told to ‘fumble’ the ball forward to the sideline in order to stop the clock and save a time out.

  25. Let’s complicate and change the rules more often. That should help improve the quality of the ref’s performances.

  26. Hell no. Fumbling out of the end zone? 100% preventable by the PLAYER WITH THE BALL!

    Pass Interference is by *far* the worst and it isn’t close. Game outcomes hinge on those ridiculous 40 yard penalties for minor or ticky-tack contact that had been going on all game long.

  27. The worst rule in the NFL by far is PI being a spot foul. Completely illogical. Defensive holding being an automatic first down is dumb too.

  28. An even better rule change: A fifteen-yard penalty on the offense after gaining a first down should result in a 1st and 25.

    Half the distance when backed up could add remaining yards to gain on the other end, too.

  29. What happens if this happens when the defense has the ball after a turnover? Let’s call it the Leon Lett rule.

  30. Mike, you are wrong. There is a reason this rule exists. It’s so that players don’t go flying in the air holding the ball by their pinky finger at the goal line knowing that since they’re at the pylon they’re guaranteed possession no matter what. That’s what makes pylon dives risky but rewarding. Good teams coach to never extend the ball at the goal line, or at least not without both hands firmly on the ball.

  31. If DEF holding gives the OFF a 1st down then how about OFF holding gives OFF a 3rd down if it is 1st or 2nd down, if it is already 3rd down then automatic 4th down + 10 yard loss.

  32. How often does this play actually happen? Once every few years? How about the lack of a review when the refs say it is NOT a touchdown….that needs to be an automatic review.

  33. I agree with that rule change. If an offense fumbles the ball through and out of the end zone, it should be treated like any other fumble where the team that had possession keeps possession. If the defense recovers it in the end zone, it’s a touchback.

  34. Spot foul on PI isn’t the worst. Otherwise receivers would be mugged and tackled every play before they even touch the ball. Why should the offense get punished for potential big play because the defender got beat and decided to just take out the receiver.

    It’s a good rule. The problem is with enforcement and consistency. Too much relies on the judgement of the refs.

  35. It truly is the worst rule in the NFL. In an earlier article you said (back in the 2022 regular season) some owners are fed up with the bad officiating. I wonder now that the bad officiating continued into the playoffs and both Championship Games plus the Super Bowl if those owners will demand changes.

  36. The NFL is in the entertainment business. They generate most of their income through TV revenue. 113 million people watched the super. Their business plan is working very well. The only embarrassment is an embarrassment of riches. When the XFL and USFL surpass the NFL in revenue, maybe the NFL will adopt some of their rules. Wake me up when that happens.

  37. I see this rule as a counterbalance to the benefit offenses got by having an infinite goal line that runs along each sideline. That gives the offense lots of advantages by trying to extend the ball at the edge. Risk/reward for each side.

  38. This is the first rule that came to my mind when I read the title. I agree. I see a lot of other people disagree. Why should the defense get rewarded if they don’t recover the ball? Fumbling anywhere else on the field and having it go out of bounds, the ball always stays with the offense. If a pass comes down and both the offensive and defensive player have possession, the ball goes to the offense. I just don’t get why the defense should be rewarded with such a big play if they don’t earn the recovery. If the offense is backed up on their own goalline and they fumble it out of bounds in the endzone, that is a safety, as it should be, because that’s their own goal to defend. I don’t think the defense should get rewarded at both ends of the field.

  39. FAR dumber rule that comes into play all the time: penalizing an offense half the distance to the goal line. It would make sense if instead, for fouls that would trigger this, if it’s normally a 5-yard penalty, back them up whatever half the distance is, then extend the first down line to gain by the remaining yardage. So if the ball is moved from the 6 to the 3, the first down line would be extended by the remaining three yards. Otherwise, you’re giving the offense the ability to commit a foul with no penalty. While we’re at it, we need to deal with defensive holding, hands to the face, etc. all creating an automatic first down. That needs to end. Too many drives are extended on the cheap by this, while there is no similar penalty for the offense. Holding? Ten yards, replay the down. Illegal procedure? Five yards, replay the down. Chop block? Replay the down. Why not LOSS of down instead? Holding – ten (or maybe just five) yards, and a loss of down. Why is grounding a loss of down, but holding isn’t? There are just too many penalties on the defense that automatically extend drives, which is a stiff price to pay when a similar foul on the offense carries penalties not nearly as large.

  40. Me personally, I think the “automatic first down” should be eliminated from all defensive penalties except personal fouls. The offense can commit countless holding, be backed up 3rd and 50, the defense commits a hold, automatic 1st down. If the yardage marched off results in a 1st down, so be it, but if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

  41. Very stupid rule. Without it, the Browns very well may have beaten the Chiefs in Divisional Round of 2020 playoffs. With about a minute and a half to go before half, Browns WR Rashard Higgins lost control of the ball at about the Chiefs half INCH line and ball went out of the end zone and Chiefs got the ball. Had the Browns scored TD there, everything changes. The AFC Championship could have been Cleveland at Buffalo. And the SB would have been Browns or Bills against Tampa and it would have been a much better game than the embarrassing performance the Chiefs gave. And had the Browns beat the Bills and gotten to SB, Baker Mayfield would have gotten a HUGE contract extension and Desean Watson would be someplace else today.

  42. One foot catches. Clock stops on 1st down inside of five (or whatever) min. No 2 min warning. Yes, I prefer College rules.

  43. Now can we change the out of bounds rule on kickoffs?

    If it goes 10, it’s live

    One bounce and out of bounds, that’s where possession starts

  44. It’s true this rule makes no sense. Unless the defense recovers a fumble, they don’t deserve possession of the ball. Fumbling out to the sideline does not result in a turnover. The defense makes out like a bandit in the touchback scenario. Giving them the ball plus 20 yards is perverse.

  45. If a running back is at the 2 yard line gets hit and fumbles into the end zone and offense recovers it should be brought back to the ten yard line but they retain possession! If the Defense recovers then change of possession! If it goes out of the end zone then offense still back at the ten!

  46. Really no need to change the rule, the onus is on the ball carrier to hold on to the ball, if they lose it through the end-zone then tough.

    The next step in the progression of the this soapbox moment is to make it even harder for defense and again try to increase scoring is a 15 yard personal foul for tackling/touching the player with the football (this has already been in use and accomplished what Roger wants phantom calls to ensure his most favorite protected teams get their win).

  47. BuckyBadger says:
    February 15, 2023 at 11:08 am

    The end zone is different then the rest of the field. The offense should not get the ball if they fumble it out of bounds in the end zone. The ball has to go to the defense here and they should get a touch back. Why should the offense not get punished for losing the ball? To just give them the ball there isn’t the right move here. They made a mistake where the game has the highest stakes, makes no sense to give them the ball back after a crucial mistake there. If you have ever defended your own goal line you would understand.

    Disagree. You treat it as you do on the rest of the field if it is fumbled forward and goes out of bounds without being recovered. Possession stays with the offense and at the spot of the fumble.

  48. In years past, a ball fumbled out of bounds was retained by the offense at the spot at which it went out of bounds, even if that spot was ahead of line where the ball was fumbled. When that fumbling rule was in place, the change of possession and touchback rule was a necessary consequence: you clearly cannot award the ball to the fumbling team and spot in in the end-zone. However, once you change to rule so that balls fumbled forward out of bounds are retained by the offense but spotted at the point of the fumble, the change of possession and touchback rule becomes entirely unneeded: you simply spot the ball where it was fumbled.

  49. imsomeguy says:
    February 15, 2023 at 11:54 am
    Worst rule in YOUR opinion. To me the offensive player needs to maintain the ball, period.
    We always complain about too many rules and lack of consistency. Given that the normal procedure is to spot forward fumbles out of bounds for the offense at the point of fumble, there is no reason not to that if it goes out of bounds in the endzone. Alternatively, award any fumble out of bounds to the defense. Doesn’t matter which, but the rules should be consistent.

  50. The worst NFL rule? yes it’s a bad one I agree. But the worst? probably not. Others have mentioned some really dumb NFL rules which are very frustrating for fans and players alike. To me one of the worst rules is one that happens a lot more often than the fumble at the goal line situation (almost never!). it is the 12 men on the field rule. the point of the rule is unfair play. I have 11 players and you have 12 players. Whistle, flag. you can’t do that. The problem with the rule is when a player is running off the field and the ball is snapped just before he gets off the field. There is no advantage to the “offending” team. The penalty, to be fair, should only come into play when there are actually 12 players involved in the play. but if the 12th man is running to the sideline that should NOT be a penalty. Terrible penalty that is taken advantage of by players like Rogers in particular.

  51. The rule is fine as is. Otherwise, no ramifications for fumbling near the goal line if the ball goes out in the end zone.

  52. I think the worst penalty is for offensive lineman downfield on a broken play. C’mon, man…

    There’s many more worse penalties out there than this goofy end zone penalty. Fix the ones that happen often, first…

  53. They should make it a safety.
    If the offense gets sacked in the endzone then the defence gets points, but if the offense turns it over in the endzone (which is worse than just getting sacked) then the defense should get points for that as well

  54. Defensive holding being an automatic first down is dumb too.

    That one annoys me, too, I understand why it exists. Without that you’d give DBs free reign to just grab receivers on 3rd and long. 3rd and 15? If he gets a decent jump off the line then just grab him and it’ll still just be 3rd and 10. Or if you’re playing press coverage and the guy EVER gets a jump on you then just grab him. That would absolutely become the standard, coached procedure and we’d get tired of that very quickly.

  55. The defense gets the ball because the offense fumbled out of the defenses endzone- it makes perfect sense.

  56. It happened in the Super Bowl! And no one is was dumbfounded by that, it’s been played on a loop for (help me out Cowboy fans) 30 years!

    Giving it back to the offense at the spot of the fumble makes no sense. Players can be reckless with the ball near the goal-line in an effort to cross the plane. I have never had an issue with the existing rule, and I hope the NFL keeps it intact. We need less changes to the game. Not more.

  57. I agree this rule should change. However, I don’t think its the worst rule. Imagine a Damar Hamlin type situation but the player downed is a ball carrier. Maybe the blow is still helmet to chest or maybe its a blow to his helmet. Now when he blacks out due to concussion or heart attack he also fumbles of course, because you cannot hold onto a ball unconscious. Then then he is at the bottom of the pile where the focus is on recovering the ball and he cannot get medical attention. Maybe Lamar Jackson takes the same hit on a scramble and is found dead at the bottom of the pile. The worst rule is that you can fumble unconscious and there is no effort to whistle plays dead where the ball carrier is involved in a forcible blow involving one or both helmets to the head or chest.

  58. Now they just need to make it so you can’t advance a fumble unless it’s a change of possession. You shouldn’t be rewarded for a mistake if there is a fortunate bounce or dumb luck. In my opinion the ball should be spotted where the fumble occurred unless of course the fumble was for negative yards

  59. Worst rule are the automatic first down, also half the distance to the goal is questionable, PI is too harsh should be 25yards max

  60. in my 30 years of watching NFL football, I have heard exactly zero people say they want this rule changed.

  61. The worst rule is that you don’t have to touch down for a touchdown. This rule just stems from that.

  62. The spot foul for PI needs to go. Should be a 15yd and auto 1st for the offense, that is definitely fair enough. Giving a team 25-50 yds on a penalty is absurd. Anyone who disagrees does not truly love football.

  63. another rule I would like to see changed is the two feet in rule. IF they made it one foot in like college it would speed the game up and save a billion maybe two billion takes. Of course they wont touch this because it allows the stations to go to break and pump 29 commercials in our dam faces and then come back to find a clueless ref being told by a guy in NYC (how the hell did they ever think of that idea) that the guy didnt have both feet in bounds.
    This is all delay tacktics to get more commercials in.

  64. Ya now youve got us started. PI is where it occurs? Why not 15 yards and auto first down?
    Pass interference first 10 yards, 5 yard penalty but not auto first down.
    Face mask, 10 yard penalty no auto first down.
    One game this year one team got three penalties called against the other team, two year 15 yards each and the other a 10 yard penalty all first downs. The team moved down field 45 yards and did nothing to earn it, it was a gift from the d of the other team. That is bs.

  65. Idiot whining. There are two worst rules: (1) Taunting should never be a penalty. These are grown men and if they can’t handle some extra speech or hand gestures, then the problem is with the “victim”, not the idiot doing the trashing. (2) The Cheese Cheater Loophole. If a defensive player commits a penalty before the snap, then the offense gets a free play. But, that is only if the arbitrary standard that is ignored many times with Green Bay – sometimes the play is stopped, but not when Green Bay is on offense. Ewwin Wawgers gets more free plays by actively cheating than anyone in NFL history – look it up – it is a fact. There should be no distinction of unabated to a QB. If the defense jumps offsides, the play is to be blown dead. Period. Equal enforcement.

  66. glrider says:
    February 15, 2023 at 12:31 pm
    Me personally, I think the “automatic first down” should be eliminated from all defensive penalties except personal fouls. The offense can commit countless holding, be backed up 3rd and 50, the defense commits a hold, automatic 1st down. If the yardage marched off results in a 1st down, so be it, but if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

    I agree but years ago they brought the bean counters in who convinced the NFL, it was all about scoring and that mindless morons dont want to see and wont sit around for all those commecials if the game is tight and ends up a 7-0 game. They changed all the rules to benefit offense and punish defense thus more points on the board.

  67. I get the point of the rule and it makes sense for there to be a penalty for the risk being played. At the goal line it doesn’t make sense to reward losing control of the ball by handing the ball back to the offense at 1in mark, but the punishment seems extreme compared to losing the ball on the side lines. So change the punishment to where the offense is given the option of taking a safety and the defense free kicks the ball back to the offense from the goal line or they can lose an additional down and have the ball moved to the original line of scrimmage. But there should be some kind of reward for the defense causing a fumble at the goal line when they don’t have a chance to recover

  68. An inane, inexplicably dumb rule that is so easy to fix yet the laziness of the NFL to not get it corrected is mind numbing. It might not happen all that frequently but when it does it changes the momentum of the game. Guess the XFL and USFL are less top heavy making it easier for simple decisions which the NFL trips all over itself doing.

  69. Such a small matter in the grand scheme of things. Will they have and use a SKY JUDGE is way more important to me. You know like stop the play and say he didn’t catch the ball, no matter how fast his team gets to the line to run another play. Void the play and say the previous catch is under review. The goal is to GET IT RIGHT!

  70. A better penalty for fumbling out of the end zone would be to give the offense the ball back, but take them out to the 20.

  71. The Chiefs LB should have been flagged for a penalty when he hit Higgins. But the officials missed it, and the NFL stated at that moment that the penalty is not reviewable. However, The NFL is dead wrong here. It is in fact reviewable. All turnovers are reviewable. The moment the refs decided to invoke the dumbest rule ever written in the history of any sport, it became 100% reviewable. The correct call should have been first and goal Browns at the spot of the foul. You can’t have a rule that automatically creates a turnover and then in the same rule book have a rule that clearly states “All possession turnovers are reviewable.

  72. A good coach like Belichick would have challenged that the ball crossed the plane before the fumble but no… not Stefanski. Instead he just sat on the sidelines shaking his head and decides to never play Higgins again, Mayfield’s main go-to WR. The rest (as they say on TV) is history.

  73. My local sports radio spent 45 minutes discussing Rom-Coms.
    We are in the NFL dead zone. Content doesn’t flow easily. Let’s talk about changing obscure rules

  74. I like this rule as it might be the only rule that gives the defense a break. It gives the defense a reward for causing a fumble and gives the offense one extra reason for better ball security. I would advocate expanding the rule to any fumble that goes out of bounds goes to the defense.

  75. A fumble THROUGH the back line of the end zone should remain a touchback. I don’t know how I feel about going back to the spot of the fumble for a ball that goes out either SIDE of the end zone, but that is at least worthy of debate.

  76. Rule is perfect. Don’t get your position on it. You gonna give it to the offense? Where? The 25 lol. Don’t fumble in the end zone.

  77. I like the rule. Prevents offenses from wildly trying to break the plane. As for everyone talking about spot PI being bad, I agree with you there too. However, I think it’s sometimes justified if the defense commits an obvious PI to stop a TD. If the league is going to tweak rules, I think the biggest benefit would be to bring back major and minor penalties akin to running into the kicker vs. roughing. If its a close PI, its a 10 or 15 yd penalty. If it’s a major, then make it a spot foul. Same with hits on the QB. Gentle love taps don’t deserve a 15 yd and automatic first down especially on those 3rd and 19 prayer plays they never would have converted.

  78. Those complaining about PI: You do realize that if the penalty yards were limited the defenders should just shove any receiver about to catch a long pass, right? Why get beat on a potential fifty yard catch and run when you can just commit a penalty and keep it at fifteen yards?

  79. If you don’t like a rule, let’s have a discussion. But if you’re bringing up the minor leagues to prove your point, fewer people are going to buy it. We’re not talking about the old AFL now. When the XFL starts getting players like Lance Alworth and Joe Namath, then maybe you’ll get an audience when you mention their league. I’m hoping the USFL grows into something bigger. They’re backed by FOX, so they don’t have to worry about getting a network to sign on. I’m not too high on the XFL.

  80. 1) Why would you reward the team that fumbled?? This rule is fine the way it is.
    2) I think the worst rule in football is the one that allows the QB to kneel down and run out the clock in a close and otherwise exciting Superbowl.

  81. I agree that the rule is completely illogical, especially when compared to a fumbled ball going out of bounds in the field of play. One scenario, the offense keeps the ball, the other is a turnover.

    What’s more surprising is that this is a league that does everything humanly possible to help the offense. This is one that heavily (unfairly) penalizes the offense. I’m shocked the NFL hasn’t changed for that reason alone.

  82. If the fumble goes out of bounds in the EZ, the offense should keep the ball, but go back to the plus 20. That still punishes the fumble but not disproportionally.

  83. If the offense fumbles the ball at the 1 inch line, and it goes out of bounds, they maintain possession at the point of the fumble. If the offense fumbles the ball 1 inch into the end zone, and it goes out of bounds, the opposing team gets the ball at the 20.

    This has never made sense as (according to rules) the offense can not forward the ball on a fumble. The rule needs to go away. Just like a 60 yard, hail mary, pass interference call, there really shouldn’t be any “freebies” to decide a game (tuck rule included).

    The offense can not advance the ball on a fumble…period!

  84. ” If/when that rule ever is applied when more than 100 million people are watching the Super Bowl, it will change before the next season. Guaranteed.”

    It happened in a superbowl. In Superbowl XXVII, When Don Beebe of the Bills chased down the Leon Lett, who had slowed up before he got in the end zone on a fumble return, the ball was knocked out of the end zone and the Bills received the ball at the 20. The score of that game was 52-17 at the time, had the rule been changed as you suggest Dallas would have received the ball at the Buffalo 1 yard line. They could have then set the record for most points in a Superbowl (which is still at 55 by the 1989 49ers).

    There was no outcry over the rule then. It seemed a just reward for the hustle by Beebe and just punishment for Lett’s slowing down and reaching out with the ball.

  85. jamellionsfan says:
    February 15, 2023 at 11:31 am

    The worst “rule” in football is automatic 1st down on 5 yard penalties. If the 5 yards will give them the 1st, sure. If it’s a 4 and 25, why, exactly, should a 5 yard penalty result in a automatic 1st down? Is it just me, or do offenses not need any more help than the NFL rule book already gives them?

    This is what I have felt for years. I would go even further and make it any penalty that does not give enough yards for a first down is replay of the down plus the yards of the penalty. A 15 yards penalty on 3rd and 16 becomes 3rd and 1. There are no automatic fourth down penalties on the offense, in fact most penalties are a replay of the down. So why should there be automatic first downs?

  86. I’m a Bills fan. I was at the Rose Bowl for the “Leon Lett game”. I was sitting in the endzone seats so the play happened right in front of me. To this day, I contend that the ball had “crossed the plane” and the only reason the play was called the way it was called was to reward Beebe for his hustle.

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