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KC_Guy

Trying to dissect the Mariota Non-Fumbles

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Posted (edited)

I love reading, so I took to the NFL rulebook trying to sort out what the refs may have seen.

First it is important to understand a few terms and definitions:

RULE 3, SECTION 28: RUNNER A Runner is the offensive player who is in possession of a live ball (3-2-7), i.e., holding the ball or carrying it in any direction.

I think we can agree that Mariota was holding the ball, thus being a runner. Actually, any QB gaining control after the snap is considered a runner.

 

RULE 7, SECTION 2 (DEAD BALL), ARTICLE 1 (DEAD BALL DECLARED). An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended: ... (b) when a runner is held or otherwise restrained so that his forward progress ends ...

Important here: The runner needs to be held or otherwise restrained. And it doesn't matter if the runner moved forward or backward. I think we can agree that anything after the ball is declared dead is irrelevant.

 

Now there is a very subjective thing going into this, and we see it week in, week out: when is forward progress stopped? Quite often a RB rips lose after initial contact, reverts his direction and attempts to break through another gap. Is that meant by Rule 7? I don't think so. He needs to be HELD or RESTRAINED - in my opinion meaning: he can't move anymore. If he's able to rip lose he's no longer restrained. And we see that quite often. Not sure who it was - but there was a QB buried under a pile, able to dig out and run for like 20 yards - noone blew that play dead.

However, the question to answer is: how long do you need to hold or restrain the runner? A second? 2 seconds? You can always make the argument AFTER the whistle that he got lose, however, you can also argue that he got lose because the defender let go because of the whistle.

But one thing is for sure: Mariota was neither held nor restrained prior to Johnson's hit. Noone even touched him. So there can't have been a forward progress stop.

 

Next thing: A look at the two point conversion non-fumble ... need to find a good vid of that first though.

Edited by KC_Guy

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Posted (edited)

Ok, applying the same criteria as above, here is the botched two-point conversion:

Start watching at 10:45:

Sorensen gets his grips on Mariota and prevents further progress. Spins him around twice moving him backwards while in permanent contact. Halfway through the second spin the play is blown dead, very much in line with RULE 7, SECTION 2 (DEAD BALL), ARTICLE 1 (DEAD BALL DECLARED) as quoted above. So I think this a correct decision by the zebras.

Edited by KC_Guy

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Solid review KC_Guy, as always. 

I have been open regarding my opinion on the first example as a poor application of the forward progress rule. The rule itself is a guard against injury, and I support that. The 'In the grasp' application in particular is intended to guard qbs and the second example on the 2pt conversion is a good reference for that application. 

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Agreed. And I think it's pretty clear. The 3rd down play was absolutely a fumble. The 2 point conversion was correctly called forward progress.

The dilemma with the rule is really that it comes down to just when the ref blows the whistle at the time, and if they blew it for forward progress. This gets especially problematic with challenges, IMO. Because the difference on whether or not you can challenge it is really just whether the ref includes those two words in his verdict or not.They rule Mariota down by contact instead, and that whole thing is challengeable. We'd still lose the chance to return it, but at least get the ball back.

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