Jeff Driskel lost a TD because NFL treats head-first dives like feet-first slides

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As PFT noted in August, the NFL changed the officiating procedures for how to treat a ball carrier who gives himself up, meaning this year, a quarterback who dives head-first should be treated the same way as a quarterback who slides feet-first. That change got little attention, but it was a major difference, as Bengals quarterback Jeff Driskel found out the hard way on Sunday.

On third-and-goal at the Chargers’ 1-yard line, Driskel rolled out to his right, looked for an open receiver, and then saw he had room to run and ran toward the end zone, where he dove forward and stuck the ball over the goal line. The official on the field ruled touchdown.

But on replay, it was determined that Driskel had given himself up on the play, and he was down before crossing the goal line, just as he would have been if he had gone into a feet-first slide. NFL V.P. of Officiating Al Riveron said in his weekly officiating video that the rules were applied correctly, and a quarterback who dives into the end zone isn’t going to get a touchdown under those circumstances.

“The ruling on the field is a touchdown,” Riveron said. “We communicate with the referee and he does affirm the fact that this quarterback dives and therefore gives himself up, and any time a player gives himself up by diving, sliding or any other attempt to give himself up — and this includes diving for the goal line and/or the line to gain — once you dive and give yourself up and any body part other than the hand or foot touches the ground, even though you are not touched by an opponent, you are deemed down and the play is over.”

Adding additional protections to keep quarterbacks from getting hurt is fine, but when the rules change so that a quarterback who’s trying to run for a touchdown is “protected” from doing so, that’s something else. The NFL should re-think this rule. A dive toward the goal line should be treated as a player trying to score, not a player giving himself up.

54 responses to “Jeff Driskel lost a TD because NFL treats head-first dives like feet-first slides

  1. I don’t like the idea that if you dive forward, head first, to get over the goal line it means you are giving yourself up. Or any other time..just make it head first dives DO NOT mean you are giving yourself up and let QBs who dive head first get hit.

  2. It’s a Violent collision based sport. Players know what they are getting into especially at the highest level…… They have the choice to play and make money or continue their lives work else where.

    That being said, the changes are hurting the product on the field. Fans have noticed, they do not like it and it shows….. Eventually this will hurt the bottom line……

    Also explains why UFC has taken off

  3. Quarterbacks will now GET INJURED trying to not dive into end zone. Now they must run through contact, that they can easily have avoided, to make the big play.

  4. They should move this guy Riveron as far as possible away from the product and make every member of the competition committee own the stupidity of the interpretation that Riveron inflicts on the game, players, fans. My guess is that none of them will.

  5. The rule was fine before. No one is giving themselves up when they are trying to score. I wonder how this will effect QB sneaks at the goal line.

  6. And it is a complete joke! A player sells out doing everything possible to score and it`s ruled as “giving yourself up” I turned off the NFL package and went Christmas shopping after that call. I sure hope the AAF or XFL puts a better product on the field. I can live with less athletic or talented players over the watered down version of football the NFL is selling. They claim player safety but their too dumb to look 2 steps ahead to see consequences. So after a couple of those calls QB`s will have no choice but to not dive and try to go over or thru for the TD and get hurt and the NFL will cry about QB injuries again.
    I wish common sense was more common in the NFL.

  7. Mark this post for future reference. If NFL does not immediately fix this there will be a team that is eliminated this year from the playoffs due to qb diving into end zone and td being taken off the board. I am having a deja vu feeling of Pittsburgh tight end who was ruled to have not made an appropriate football move prior to ball touching ground as Victory was turned into defeat against NE. Last year, I believe? NFL has since properly changed interpretation of the play and now it will be a td when NE’s Gronk does the exact same thing against Pittsburgh this year.

  8. The lack of common sense by the NFL is disappointing. That said, as a Bengals fan, I will be glad the TD didn’t count in April when the Bengals draft position isn’t lower because of a meaningless win (to them).

  9. Why would trying to advance the ball further up field by diving forward be deemed “giving himself up”…the whole reason for feet first slides was to distinguish between a player “giving himself up” and a player continuing to be a ball carrier trying to gain yardage by extending the ball forward and diving…it worked perfectly for years…It’s sad that the NFL I grew up loving is becoming a distant memory…protecting players is understandable, but how, exactly, does this help anyone? Is diving for the goal line or yard to gain anymore dangerous than a QB sneak or RB diving over the pile? Or will those be the next things to go?

  10. I don’t see any issue here. If he wasn’t going to be touched, he shouldn’t dive that early. Get the ball to the goal line before your knee or elbow touch the ground. It’s a good rule, a qb lying flat on the ground is as defenseless as it gets. Some people just complain about the nfl for the sake of complaining.

  11. ohio477034473 says:
    December 15, 2018 at 9:21 am

    The QBs should have a choice. Feet first and your safe or head first and your a regular football player.
    ————–
    best and simple solution … unfortunately that makes too much sense.

  12. I knew Dean Blandino. I worked with Dean Blandino. You, Mr. Riveron, are no Dean Blandino.

    As to the substance, if this interpretation is correct, the NFL should just go to the college rule: every player is down when they touch the ground. It would be more consistent.

  13. I’ve seen this not called multiple times on Big Ben and others. First time was Week 2 against the Chiefs and I wondered why the refs didn’t call it. Apparently, the refs and league forgot about it for most of the year. Not surprised.

  14. It’s over. The officiating alone has cost teams more games than I can ever remember. How many QBs dove headfirst this season and didn’t get this call?

  15. I think this rule is a joke but I also believe most people are misunderstanding the rule.
    Quarterbacks can still sneak and still dive for the endzone they just have to make sure that no part of their body touches the ground before they break the plane of the goal line.

    In essence the only thing that’s changed is that when he begins his dive it’s now treated as though he’s been contacted by an opponent.

  16. Why do are the ref’s always allowed to be morons and hide behind the letter of the law? Use some common sense judgement for goodness sake and make the right call. It is plain to see whether or not a player is giving themselves up or not based on body language and the circumstances of the play. In this case the QB was obviously diving to score, and not to avoid being hit.

  17. Sliding has minimized the distance allowed to mark the ball as down, therefore not giving a forward progress to the full distance of the motion of the body. As soon as a body part touches the ground, wherever the ball is at that time , that’s where it’s spotted, NOT where you slide to and come to a stop.
    This is fine of course and purposeful.

    Diving on the other hand should require contact until the motion of going forward has stopped. NOt treated like a slide! As the qb’ body is sliding forward on the grass, just like a RB, he should be credited with 100% of the forward movement until he stops moving! A RB can do this and still crawl until stoped or touched by a defender and get credit for advancing the ball.

    The only difference I see that the NFL should be addressing here is that last part, being “given up” so that there is no risk of crawling or advancing.

    But diving toward the end zone untouched ams having your calf or elbow touch the ground before the qb’s body comes to a stop, and having the ball marked short of his movement to come to a stop is plain ludicrous!

  18. Maybe if you guys WATCHED the actual game, you would’ve seen that Driskel dived 1 1/2 yards SHORT of the goal line and then expected to roll into the endzone.

    The rule is fine – you dive, then the ball is dead at where you LAND. You don’t get to roll around for extra yardage, because seriously, any tackler that tries to nail you on the ground will get a 15yd penalty.

  19. uncleb3,
    the problem with that comment is that Driskel IS actually contacted by a defender as he lands in the end zone. So, if we want to argue that Driskel was ‘giving himself up’ then to be consistent the defender who contacted him should have been penalized for unnecessary roughness. It would have meant two ridiculous calls on the play instead of one, but at this point hey, why not?

  20. Diggityofficial says: “How many QBs dove headfirst this season and didn’t get this call?”
    ====================

    What? I’ve never seen a quarterback ever dive and then continue to roll around for extra yardage. Please point to ONE example where this has happened in a game. One example is all I ask for. ONE.

  21. Dumb people write the rules and dumber people officially interpret them. The league lacks the ability to critically think about a given situation and identify potential unintended consequences of their actions.

    Just imagine if this were a 4th down play during overtime in the Superbowl.

    If you are diving forward head first (or extending the ball) you are trying to gain yardage. If you tuck or slide feet first you are giving yourself up. If an untouched player trips and falls forward is he now down? This interpretation is absurd and needs to have common sense applied.

  22. So the QB should have all the protections of giving himself up but also get all of the benefits of being a runner? The league is already much too slanted in favor of the offense and now PFT wants an offensive player to be, essentially, untouchable because he is “trying to score”.

  23. Should just return to the old rule. If a qb doesnt want to get hit he can slide properly. This season there’s been many penalties caused by a QB “giving himself up” at the last second. On thursday Phillip Rivers spent 20 of his last 30 seconds complaining because he wanted that call. Pretty obvious its a strategic move rather than protective.

  24. They made the rule to be safer, right? Now the teams have to deal with it. If he wanted it to be a touchdown, he should have stayed upright.

    Can’t have your cake and eat it too. The NFL is about to be on life support.

  25. There was nothing wrong with the old rule other than the fact that a handful of QBs couldn’t be bothered with learning to slide. Instead of saying, “that’s on them; learn to slide or risk getting hurt,” the league took an overly-protective rule and expanded it to absurdity.

  26. Are the refs really that dumb that they can’t tell he’s not trying to give himself up centimeters before scoring? Seriously refs? This idiotic mindset is why we have a tuck rule game and a fail Mary… because refs don’t know how to use their eyes or brains.

  27. steaksandwichandsteaksandwich says:
    December 15, 2018 at 9:36 am
    I knew Dean Blandino. I worked with Dean Blandino. You, Mr. Riveron, are no Dean Blandino.
    ===========================

    If Blandino was still working for the NFL, he’d be saying the same thing about this call that Riveron is. So would Mike Pereira. When you’re the VP of Officiating, your job is to defend every call, no matter how bad.

    Blandino and Pereira only became edgy, truth tellers when they left the NFL for TV jobs. Riveron will, too, when he moves on.

  28. deuce22222 says:
    December 15, 2018 at 11:05 am
    They made the rule to be safer, right? Now the teams have to deal with it. If he wanted it to be a touchdown, he should have stayed upright.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    …and take an unnecessary shot at the QB that the league is trying to prevent (for safety, as you said)? It is baffling how some people’s thought process stops right when data supports their position and goes no further. That is exactly what happens to the NFL when they conjure these rule changes out of thin air.

  29. They dont want QBs to dive, because they have a rule that defenders cant hit the helmet of the QB. It would be ridiculous to give the qb the full dive, if they are “unhit-able” during the dive.

  30. EVERY Cincinnati Bengals quarterback is the victim of terrible officiating.

    Andy Dalton and his wife donate $500,000 to a Buffalo hospital
    and the guy still gets no calls.

  31. Another botched NFL rule that is horrible and has terrible side effects other than its intension of protecting the QB

  32. I have always resisted any discussion of games actually being tampered with or “fixed”. But when New York intervenes on a play like this to overrule a td, uses the most absurd of illogical interpretations to take those points off the board, I no longer can avoid the suggestion of fixed games and the possibility of decision makers having bets on games. To get involved on this play, as Riveron did, logically takes a strong effort on his part. The more I think about this he took a play that was grey area interpretation and turned it into black and white dictatorial decision. I would love to wager that not one member of the competition committee that voted on this rule would agree with how it was utilized on this occasion. Best case scenario, this guy is really nuts. imo.

  33. We, the fans and media have complained so much about player safety recently and the NFL has heard our complaints loud and clear. So they’ve changed some rules to give us what we’ve asked for. Now we’re complaining about that. I really believe the problem is us, not them. But also, the league is trying to protect their own wallets too. TV ratings are really good when good QB’s are on TV, so they’re protecting QB’s. Once again, who decides to turn their TV’s on and off? That would be us. The reason the NFL rakes in record amounts of revenue every year is because they listen very closely to what their customers want. I think it’s great that they’re giving us exactly what we want. The proof is in the revenue. It might even run deeper than that. Humans are funny. They sometimes gravitate to things they can whine and complain about, so the NFL gives us a little bit of that too. These guys have us on a string.

  34. In a laundry list of dumb ideas, this one could filter to the top. Diving head first is not giving yourself up, NFL.

  35. This is the only example of this rule being interpreted this way. I seriously believe the NFL is prejudicial toward the Bengals. If this had been Brees or Brady. no way they take the TD away.

  36. Was Son of Hochuli working that game? He already set the precedent that a QB is a runner,even on a slide, and (by the way) is allowed to be hit in the head.

    I’ll bet only 2 refs knew about this rule (let alone how to correctly enforce it),zero players,and 1 coach (Belichick).

  37. That would only be called against a team like the Bengals who has pretty small national following. Nobody would notice the NFL blatantly trying to build up the two LA teams fanbases to something more profitable my assisting the Chargers win-loss record. It’s an entertainment product, not a sports league.

  38. If you are trying to score I don’t believe you are giving yourself up why can’t officials have some common sense

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