Late in the second quarter of Thursday’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota was well positioned to take a 14-10 lead after a catch from Justin Jefferson. Instead, the Vikings were on the wrong side of one of the NFL’s most reviled rules.
Jefferson caught a pass from Kirk Cousins and turned toward the end zone. It seemed like he’d either score or, at worst, the Vikings would have a first-and-goal from less than a yard away.
But as Jefferson was reaching for the goal line, the ball began to come out of his hands. It went out of bounds inside the end zone and as such, he was ruled to have fumbled, not only giving the Eagles the ball, but giving Philadelphia a touchdown and with that, possession of the ball at the Minnesota 20.
After review, Justin Jefferson's 30-yard gain resulted in a touchback instead of 1st-and-goal.
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) September 15, 2023
There is zero question about this. Jefferson fumbled the ball, it went inside the pylon and out of bounds. So, the eventual ruling of fumble was right.
But while the ruling itself was undeniable, the rule is a different story. And while we’d love to call it a controversial rule, that’s not quite right. Controversy implies at least a significant number of people on each side of the issue engaged in debate.
This rule doesn’t seem to have much — if any — support.
Someone please explain the logic of the end zone fumble/touchback rule to me like I’m 5 years old.
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) September 15, 2023
— JPAFootball (@jasrifootball) September 15, 2023
Worst rule in football. Wake up NFL.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 15, 2023
Either way I hate this rule
— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) September 15, 2023
the worst rule in sports
— Football Chopz (@Pchopz_) September 15, 2023
Dumbest rule in football. If you fumble at the 1 yard line you keep the ball. If you fumble an inch beyond the pylon it’s a touchback
— Robert Littal BSO (@BSO) September 15, 2023
When they mention the touchback rule pic.twitter.com/LGIa9DtjDC
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) September 15, 2023
Oof, that's a touchback. (This rule continues to suck.)
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 15, 2023
It’s certainly a unique rule. Excluding fourth downs, the defense needs to actually recover a fumble to gain possession of the ball.
And while this rule doesn’t come up, there may not be anything or anyone in football guaranteed to trigger such emotional responses.
[Photo Credit: Amazon Prime]