NFL rule rant: How do you KNOW he would have come down in bounds?

This has bothered me for years. And it happened in the Broncos vs. Jets game on Sunday.

The receiver caught a pass in the endzone near the sideline and the cornerback pushed him out. The official ruled he would have come down in bounds, so it was a touchdown.

This is a stupid rule! It should be changed!

How do you KNOW that? How can ANY official know that? Are all receivers like Jerry Rice with Jerry Rice talent? If I’m a DB, I can’t put a finger on anyone after 5 yards. One of my rights as a DB should be my right to push the guy out of bounds when he makes the catch.
If the quarterback can’t get the pass to the guy before he gets pushed out, tough luck!

“Well, the receiver should be allowed to make the catch in bounds without interference.”

No, the DB should be allowed the PUSH OUT OF BOUNDS as a legal defensive play.

“But the receiver isn’t allowed to be touched until the pass is caught.”

I can hit him in the field of play when he catches the ball, which is legal. I can’t control HOW I hit him if he’s in the endzone. If he goes out of bounds when he’s hit, then that’s the way it goes.

OK, I fell better now.

This rule bothers me, too. OTOH suppose a receiver in the middle of the field leaps up and catches a pass. Before he comes down, a defender (or a couple of defenders) catch him and carry him out of bounds. This has to count as a reception, even though he never came down in bounds. I see the rule in question as an extention of this principle.

Eh, this rule doesn’t bother me, even though it leads to the occasional wacky call. I think you get a better game if the rules favour offense a bit. Incomplete passes are less fun than completions.

I think I’m with Manduck: the rule doesn’t really bother me. I don’t think I’d have any real beef if they changed it, either - except for the case that December points out.

It’s a judgement call on the part of the official, but there are enough of those already (you can’t avoid 'em) that I’ve got no problem with it.

I guess the defensive-minded can take consolation in the rule that a receiver who goes out of bounds - even if pushed out by a defender - becomes ineligible. Now, that’s only supposed to be legal in the first five yards, but in practice DB’s seem to get quite a bit more latitude.

Whatever. To me, consistency of enforcement is more important that letter-of-the-law correctness (see baseball’s strike zone).

Changing the rule, I think, would make dazzling sideline catches much rarer. And I don’t think that would be an improvement to the game.

Granted, with the number of replays at both normal and slower speeds this may bias me but:

I don’t have a problem with the rule. Based on a receiver’s direction and speed it usually seems obvious whether or not they will land in bounds.

I suppose that would be a legitimate rule change, but it would hugely reduce scoring and the effectiveness of passing near the end zone. You’d pretty much be cutting passing touchdowns by a large percentage; not only would you lose all pushing TDs, but defensive backs would be MORE inclined to wait for the catch and then push receivers out of bounds, not only in the end zone but all down the field. Allowing pushes-out-of bounds would have the effect of significantly reducing the width and depth of the end zone and the width of the field overall. As it is, the NFL field isn’t big enough. You could compensate for that (and, frankly, improve the NFL game) by adopting a CFL-width field (65 yards wide instead of 53 and a foot) and CFL end zones (20 yards deep instead of 10) but that’s not going to happen because of space limitations.

The NFL isn’t running a a particularly high level of offense as it is, so enormously reducing the effectiveness of pass offense does not strike me as being a very productive change.

They most likely wouldn’t make to the sideline. The ref would blow the whistle since the receiver’s forward progress has been stopped. The ball would be placed at that spot.

Then the defenders would carry the receiver on a (slightly forward) angle to the sidelines.


Perhaps I’m misreading you, but you are aware that this sort of call isn’t reviewable, since it’s a judgement call, and judgement calls aren’t reviewable.

Sports officials have to make judgment calls of a similar nature all the time, in any sport. So what?

Agreed, real cases are usually clear-cut and rarely missed by pro officials anyway.

Changing this rule would be ridiculous. It would encourage defenders to simply push receivers out of bounds instead of defending the ball.