“More probable than not [New England cheated]”:
ORIGINAL POST (JANUARY 2015):
That’s how the NFL Rules describe a football. The bladder contains air, which the rules state must be between prescribed pounds-per-square-inch limits. Those are the rules.
The NFL reportedly found that the New England Patriots did not play with properly-inflated footballs during their blowout 45-7 win over Indianapolis last weekend (aka “Deflategate”). In the second quarter, Indianapolis linebacker D’Qwell Jackson intercepted a Tom Brady pass–and apparently thought the ball felt funny.
He gave the ball to an Indy equipment guy, who told Indy Coach Pagano, who told Indy’s General Manager, who told an NFL official, who told the on-field officials, who then inspected New England’s footballs at halftime. End of story–until the NFL penalizes New England somehow (probably a monetary fine and perhaps the loss of a draft choice if the League considers the alleged cheating egregious).
To some, the alleged cheating’s effect on the game’s outcome is a non-starter . New England blew out the Colts, so what could a couple of pounds of air pressure mean in a one-sided game?
To others, the story is all about the air pressure. They say that football is a game of momentum that can break the other team’s will to win. If you do that, you steamroll the opponent. If New England cheated (which apparently they did), and that cheating resulted in the proverbial snowball rolling downhill, a couple of pounds of air pressure meant virtually everything.
The officials rectified the problem at halftime, when the score was 17-7 in favor of New England, who then scored 21 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter with the properly-inflated balls.
In my mind, that makes the issue a non-starter as to the ultimate outcome of the game. But rules are rules, and a penalty appears warranted at some point.
I can’t wait to see what New England tries next …
I previously predicted positive results for Nebraska football coach Mike Riley.
The following video briefly outlines his coaching philosophy.
Call it trendy if you will.
I call it smart.
Question: What is the proper call if an airborne player catches a pass and is pushed out of bounds by another player without both feet touching inbounds?
Answer: If a player simply pushes an airborne player out of bounds, the pass is incomplete. However, if a player holds up and carries an airborne player out of bounds, the pass is complete.
Generally, a player must touch both feet inbounds to complete a pass. See Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3(b) (Page 2/12). A player can push an airborne player out of bounds, and the pass is incomplete.
However, Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 6 (Page 2/12) states:
If a player, who is in possession of the ball, is held up and carried out of bounds by an opponent before both feet or any part of his body other than his hands touches the ground inbounds, it is a completed or intercepted pass.
A.R. 8.22INCOMPLETE PASS—NO FORCE OUTSecond-and-10 on B45. A1 throws a pass to A2 near the sideline. A2 goes high to catch the pass, secures possession while in the air, but is then pushed by B1 causing one of A2’s feet to come down on the sideline. B1 does not play the ball but instead pushes A2 with both hands on his waist. Had he not been pushed, A2 would have come down inbounds with both feet at the B30.Ruling:Third-and-10 on B45. Incomplete pass.A.R. 8.23COMPLETE PASS—CARRY OUTSecond-and-10 on B45. A1 throws a pass to A2 near the sideline. A2 goes high to catch the pass, secures possession while in the air, and would have come down with both feet inbounds at the B30; however, B1 wraps him up while he is still in the air and carries A2 toward the sideline where he finally comes down out of bounds a) at the B28, or b) at the B32.Rulings:a) First-and-10 on B28.b) First-and-10 on B30. Carry out and forward progress.
Several weeks ago, I analyzed completed forward passes in both college and professional football. You can read that post here.
Earlier today, the Green Bay-Dallas game involved this issue late in a close game.
The issue involved a 4th down pass to Dallas’s Dez Bryant. Here is the video:
The official initially called the play a completed forward pass, which would have given Dallas a first down on the Green Bay 1 with a chance to take the lead. Following an official review, the call was overturned, giving Green Bay the ball. Green Bay then ran out the clock.
So how do the rules apply here? NFL Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3 states , in part:
A forward pass is complete … if a player … maintains control of the ball long enough … to enable him to perform any act common to the game (i.e., maintaining control long enough to pitch it, pass it, advance with it, or avoid or ward off an opponent, etc.).
Bryant appears to possess the ball long enough to enable him to perform any act common to the game. In fact, the example above lists advancing with the ball as one act, which Bryant arguably did by reaching the ball forward.
However, Article 3 also contains “Item 1”, which states:
If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.
Green Bay Fan would argue that Item 1 applies here; that is, Bryant did not maintain control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground. Green Bay Fan likely has a strong argument here in favor of an incomplete pass. However ….
The standard for overturning a call on the field is stated in NFL Rule 15, Section 9, Article 3, which explains that the Referee only can reverse a call on the field with indisputable visual evidence. Did indisputable evidence exist? Did the ball without a doubt hit the ground (and not part of Bryant’s arm)? Based on the visual evidence I saw, No and No. The standard is indisputable visual evidence.
But I did not see the Referee’s visual evidence (and I’m a Dallas fan). Good luck the rest of the way, Green Bay.
A reader (DC) recently suggested that The DA Blog address the topic of laterals, more accurately called “backward passes”. Specifically, DC inquired about the Oakland Raiders stunning win over Kansas City, during which an Oakland defender batted down a pass, which officials ruled a backward pass, causing Kansas City not only to lose that down but also nine yards.
This result indicates that some passes are not incomplete and the play dead when the ball touches the ground with no loss of yardage (as in a garden-variety incomplete forward pass); a backward pass creates a “live ball” situation wherein the play actually continues.
The most famous example of disputed backward passes occurred in 1982 during “The Play”, where Stanford’s John Elway engineered what appeared to be the game-winning drive to put Stanford ahead of Cal in the closing seconds of the game–right before this happened:
A couple of those backward passes were arguably illegal forward passes. Can you spot them and, more importantly, what do the rules say about backward passes?
The rules distinguish between forward passes and backward passes, both of which are legal. I shall cite the basic rules but allow you to apply them to specific situations–as they are quite varied and often controversial. Frankly, the rules regarding backward passes are quite simple yet leave to the officials’ judgment what constitutes “forward” and “backward” passes.
NCAA Football 2013 And 2014 Rules And Interpretations Rule 7, Section 2, Article 1 (Page 77/216) states:
A ball carrier may hand or pass the ball backward at any time, except to throw the ball intentionally out of bounds to conserve time.
Section 2 discusses the nuances of backward passes, but the general rule is left fairly simply: A team may hand or pass the ball backward (generally) at any time innumerable times.
Section 3 (Page 78/216 and following) discusses the forward pass. Generally, a team may pass the ball forward once during a play. Article 1 of this Section states:
Team A may make one forward pass during each scrimmage down before team possession changes, provided the pass is thrown from a point in or behind the neutral zone.
Section 3 discusses the nuances of the forward pass in exhausting detail.
National Football League Rule 8 also treats forward and backward passes and in only twelve pages. Again, the basic rules are quite simple, although specific issues occur throughout those pages.
These rule links should assist you to break down issues related to forward and backward passes.
Here’s another play where the announcers are pretty excited:
Before I discuss what penalties exist for faking an injury to gain an advantage (e.g. slowing down an up-tempo offense, stopping the clock when one’s team is out of timeouts), I want to note something I find interesting.
College and professional football have limited directives regarding this practice, which soccer (a.k.a. football) calls diving, flopping, simulation, or Schwalbe (German for “swallow”). Soccer actually appears more advanced in its rules in this regard, as it directly penalizes these acts with on-field punishment (i.e. a yellow or red card).
College football has no such rule. It merely explains that such behavior is unethical and should be discouraged. (See Page 13-14/216.)
Professional football similarly has no clear rule in this regard. NFL Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1(i) states:
Using acts or words by the defensive team that are designed to disconcert an offensive team at the snap. An official must blow his whistle immediately to stop play.
This rule does not directly address feigning injury, though. In 2013, NFL Bigwigs sent all teams a little reminder memorandum regarding this practice, which reportedly noted that all personnel should discourage the practice or suffer potential “fines of coaches, players, and clubs, suspensions or forfeiture of draft choices.”
Drafting a rule prohibiting feigning injury would lead to officials needing to decide on the spot if a player is in fact injured. Should an official conduct a medical examination during a game?
I’ll be brief with this prediction. I have no “inside” information. I am out on a limb here.
I predict that Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst’s hiring of new Nebraska Football Coach Mike Riley will affect Nebraska football substantially similarly to the hiring of Bob Devaney in 1962.
You read it here early.