derek carr-oakland raiders-dallas cowboys

What’s the NFL’s worst rule? It might be the bizarre definition of a catch that helped decide Sunday’s Steelers-Patriots game. It also might be the touchback rule that help decide Sunday night’s Raiders-Cowboys game.

With less than a minute to play and the Raiders down three points, Oakland quarterback Derek Carr scrambled for a first down then dove toward the pylon in search of a go-ahead touchdown. But in desperate attempt to score, Carr let go of the ball a half yard before the end zone, and it trickled out of the end zone. According to one of the least sensible rules in sports, that meant the Cowboys took over possession from their own 20-yard line, sealing the game for Dallas.

Here’s a slo-mo view that clearly shows Carr losing control before he reached the goal line.

The touchback rule has popped up in the NFL several times in recent weeks, and each instance only further drives home its absurdity. If you fumble out of bounds, you keep the ball where it went out. If you fumble out of the end zone… the other team gets the ball? Why would we just presume the defense recovers? It’s totally counterintuitive.

The fact that a nonsensical rule essentially decided a key game went over about as well with football fans as you’d expect.

Maybe Carr should have known better than to stick out his arm for the pylon when he had the first down and plenty of time, but that doesn’t change the fact the Raiders lost because of a rule that defies all logic.

As Carr and the Raiders walked off the field with their heads down, it was tough not to reflect on arguably the two most hated rules in the NFL deciding games only a few hours apart.

Just another day in the NFL, where all of a sudden everything that can go wrong does.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.