# Strange end zone TD rule

Guys,

I'm quite puzzled about a certain ruling in the game between the Lions and SSK yesterday. Forum member "nythril" found the rule but I'm trying to understand the logic. Here's a little background….

Lions player Logan was just about to make it into the Roughrider end zone for a TD. He fumbled the ball before the ball broke the plane. The ball was rolling around in the end zone and Lions Paris Jackson pounced on it. The announcers thought it was a Lions TD because a Lions player recovered it in the end zone. Not so according to the officials. The Lions maintained possession of the ball and the ball was placed on the SSK one yard line. I'm trying to understand why this was the case. Nythril was kind enough to provided the CFL rule which says:

"Article 4 – Ball Going Into Opponent’s Goal Area
When a player directs the ball, other than by kicking, from the Field of Play over the
opponent’s Goal Line and hence Out of Bounds in the Goal Area without the ball
touching an opponent, it shall be ruled as a fumble Out of Bounds in the Field of Play,
with the ball declared dead at the point where it was last touched in the Field of Play"

I'm troubled by the wording here…

"Out of bounds in the Field of Play"???? How can a ball be "out of bounds" and yet still be "in the field of play"??

Nythril tried to explain:

"What it means is that if on the fumble a Lions player touched it BEFORE it broke the plane and continued into the goal area it would have been a TD. However because the ball was fumbled - last touched by a Lion - continued into the goal area untouched , then being touched by a BC Player it became a dead ball and placed at the last touched in bounds spot .... being the 1 yard line."

Here is my response:

"Okay let me make sure I understand this….

Logan fumbled the ball before getting into the end zone. The ball's momentum carried the ball into the end zone. A Lion recovers the ball before any of the SSK players can touch the ball. The Lions are not awarded with a TD but keep possession of the ball on the one yard line.

Let us say a SSK player had touched the ball in the end zone and Paris Jackson [Lions' player] recovered it. Would that have resulted in a Lions' TD? If that is the case it makes for a very interesting rule and I'm wondering what exactly the logic is in such a ruling. The goal area is still "in bounds". Just because a ball was fumbled into the goal area by a player trying to run into the goal area shouldn't negate a TD if one of the player's teammates recovers it as was the case yesterday before an opponent made contact with the ball. This rule appears to be saying that for the Lions to have succeeded in making it a touchdown [with Paris Jackson's recovery] the SSK players would have to have first dibs on the ball. That makes no sense to me."

Can anyone here give me the reasoning for this kind of ruling? I know some of you guys really know your football. This one has really got me stumped.

This happened in a game in Hamilton a few years ago, And I too could not understand why it was not a TD.

However if you think about it, if this fumble recovery would count as a TD, then all teams would be "fumbling" the ball to their team mate(s) waiting in the end zone.(forward lateral not legal)

Good call by the refs!

Now had the ball been kicked into the end zone after the fumble it would be a TD(note to Kent Austin to go over these situations with his players) The TigerCats should have had a TD recovery on the last play of the first half against the Al's

This rule doesn't apply here. This rule covers where the ball is fumbled and directed into the end zone, and then goes out of bounds from within the end zone. That didn't happen on this play.

The ruling here is that, because the whistle went, any recovery of the fumble must be immediate for it to count. And the review official determined that Jackson did not recover it immediately.

I disagree with the review official. I don't see how much more immediate the recovery could have been. I (eventually) agreed with the call in the Ticats game a couple of weeks ago, but this one was just not right. Fortunately, it didn't affect the outcome of the game.

But I also find fault in the quick whistle by the official. I think they should be instructed to wait a second before blowing a play dead, just to make sure.

"This rule doesn't apply here. This rule covers where the ball is fumbled and directed into the end zone, and then goes out of bounds from within the end zone. That didn't happen on this play."..by CatsfaninOttawa

I agree. That is my interpretation of that rule. :thup:

"The ruling here is that, because the whistle went, any recovery of the fumble must be immediate for it to count. And the review official determined that Jackson did not recover it immediately."…by CatsfaninOttawa

I'm sorry Cats, I still don't get that though that explanation is consistent with the refs explanation after the play was reviewed. The ref announced that the ball had not been recovered in sufficient time to rule it as a TD. What exactly does all that mean? I thought that a play is dead as soon as the whistle goes. How can there be any time to "immediately" recover a fumble once the whistle blows?

"because the whistle went, any recovery of the fumble must be immediate for it to count"…by CatsfaninOttawa

It sounds like the rule is saying that if a ball is fumbled before breaking the plane and then breaks the plane it must be recovered "instantly" by the team that fumbled it if the opposition has not yet touched the ball. Boy, that makes for a very subjective judgement call in my opinion. I hope that rule is changed. As far as I'm concerned a ball is live until it either goes out of bounds or is recovered.

It had nothing to do with the ball crossing the goal line. It was the fact that the play had been whistled dead, and, according to the review official, the fumble was not recovered immediately. Because of the "not immediate" factor, the play ended with the whistle. And therefore, as the ball was not in control when it crossed the plane, there was no touchdown.

It was a very weird play. There was no TD signaled by the official, yet they must have ruled it a TD since it was automatically reviewed. I think they got the ruling wrong, BC clearly recovered the fumble immediately. Obviously it didn't matter, they scored on the next play, but it could have mattered. If things had played out different and the Riders recovered that fumble in the endzone, I know I'd be more than a bit cheezed if they ruled it wasn't immediately recovered when it was a clean recovery.

The same type of play happened a few years ago in Hamilton vs Sask, The ball was placed on the 1 yard line, you can not recover a teammates fumble for a td (at least that is how it was rules back then)???

CatsfaninOttawa…

"It was the fact that the play had been whistled dead, and, according to the review official, the fumble was not recovered immediately. Because of the "not immediate" factor, the play ended with the whistle."

So are you saying that had a Lion recovered the ball "sooner" it would have been a TD? I'm wondering what "immediately" means.

That's what I infer from the referee's announcement on the play. Had a Lions player recovered it sooner, it would have been a touchdown, and had a Riders player recovered it sooner, it would have been a turnover.

The really odd thing is how early the whistle was. Unless there was a serious synchronization issue with the audio, the whistle went well before Logan was down, and well before the fumble. No idea what the official thought he saw to cause him to blow the whistle when he did.

So maybe it was that really early whistle that was the reason why there was no possible way for an immediate recovery.

I didn't see the play but it sounds like your describing an offside pass.

Once a ball is fumbled forward by a ball carrier it becomes an offside pass. It's not a penalty per se, but the rule requires the ball (if not recovered by the D) to be returned to the point of origin of the fumble with downs to continue. If fumbled into the EZ and recovered by the O then it is deemed to have been "fumbled out of bounds in the field of play" (thus the weird definition) and returns to the point of fumble. Not sure why it got placed at the one in the case you're talking about, but it's definitely not going to be a TD.

"That's what I infer from the referee's announcement on the play. Had a Lions player recovered it sooner, it would have been a touchdown, and had a Riders player recovered it sooner, it would have been a turnover.

The really odd thing is how early the whistle was. Unless there was a serious synchronization issue with the audio, the whistle went well before Logan was down, and well before the fumble. No idea what the official thought he saw to cause him to blow the whistle when he did.

So maybe it was that really early whistle that was the reason why there was no possible way for an immediate recovery."…by CatsfaninOttawa

Okay…. and this is what is bugging me about the whistle and the call. What exactly would determine when the ref would blow the play dead? You eluded to that when you said, "No idea what the official thought he saw to cause him to blow the whistle when he did." There are only two reasons for him to blow the whistle:

1. The ball carrier is down…. the whistle is blown. In such a scenario there would be no fumble or…...
2. The ball is fumbled and one team or the other recover it…. the whistle is blown

In either situation why would time be a factor at all? I cannot see where time would have any bearing on the play. Unless I'm completely missing something there has to be something else going on with the rule governing this play situation. If the ref saw the ball fumbled he would not blow his whistle before the ball was recovered. Why would he? If the ref believed Logan was down before the ball crossed the plane, the ball is placed on the one yard line and there is no fumble recovery because there would be no fumble. This is a very intriguing discussion. Thanks for bearing with me.

Maybe there is a rule that says that "if a player fumbles a ball before getting into the end zone and the ball ends up in the end zone, if the team that fumbled the ball recovers it in the end zone then a TD shall be awarded PROVIDED such a recovery takes place within a reasonable time in the refs judgement."

This is the only kind of rule that would make any sense for the ref to say Paris Jackson did not recover the ball quickly enough.

I am not aware of any such rule in the CFL rule book.

That is interesting YGBK. I think it was placed at the one because the ball was fumbled inside the one yard line. The problem I'm having with what you're saying is that it seems to me I've seen situations where the ball carrier fumbles the ball [QBs included] and the ball goes forward and is recovered by the opponent. The ball is scrimmaged at that point or in some cases the player who recovered the fumble was able to scramble to his feet and run with the ball. I've seen situations where the ball was fumbled forward and scooped up by a teammate who continues to run down the field. The ball was not returned to the point of origin. In the case involving Logan almost making it to the end zone the ref made no mention of an offside pass. He clearly said it had something to do with the ball not being recovered in sufficient time [to warrant a TD]. That is the part that has me baffled.

Go to the 4:30 of the following clip. You'll hear the refs explanation:

I know that was the rule in the past, but I seem to remember it changing a few years ago. And while I can't find the actual rule, I did find this in the section of statistics, which seems to support that fumbles can be advanced by a team, including where it results in a touchdown.

[b]STATISTICAL SCORING RULES SECTION 11 – FUMBLES[/b] (g) When a player fumbles the ball and it is recovered by another player of the same team, the continuing action shall be regarded as part of the same play leading up to the fumble. [b]EXAMPLES:[/b] (2) Team A has the ball on Team B’s 30-yard line. Team A quarterback throws a pass to the Team A receiver, who carries the ball to the Team B five-yard line and fumbles. The ball continues on into the Team B End Zone where it is fallen on by a Team A player. [b]NOTE[/b] – Team A quarterback is credited with a completed TD pass for 30 yards. The receiver is credited with a catch for 30 yards but no TD. The Team A player who recovered the ball is credited with a TD receiving but with no catch or yards.

Good find Catsfanin….

Watch the clip at around the 4 min 30 second mark that I provided. Listen carefully to the refs explanation. Based on your earlier find, Jackson should have been awarded the TD.

As I said, the whistle was blown before the player was down and before the fumble. Why, I have no idea.
Maybe the official thought the ball carrier was down, or that his forward progress had been stopped. Maybe he had it in his mouth and he breathed out too hard.

Bottom line, the play was dead at that point. The on-field officials then ruled it a recovered fumble for a touchdown, presumably because the officials saw that there was fumble before the player was down, and judged that it had been recovered immediately. Because it was now a scoring play, it was automatically reviewed. And according to the announcement, the fumble recovery was overturned because it was not recovered immediately. The only thing I can think of is that it was too long between the whistle and the recovery.

The reason behind this immediate recovery ruling is that some players would have let up at the whistle, so wouldn't be going for the ball. At least that's how it was explained a few weeks back.

"The only thing I can think of is that it was too long between the whistle and the recovery."…by CatsfaninOttawa

But doesn't the ref blowing his whistle immediately make the play dead? It would not matter how long or how soon after the whistle blew that the ball was recovered….. the play would already be dead and nothing can happen once the play was dead. It would still be the Lions ball, not because Jackson recovered but because Logan was down at about the one yard line.

Personally, I think the ref who blew his whistle did not realize Logan was not yet down when the ball had popped loose. That of course went in the Lions favor but had a SSK player recovered the ball in the end zone it would have been SSK ball at their 25 and the Lions would never have gotten the TD in the next few plays.

Correct. Blowing the whistle makes the play dead. But the on-field officials or the review official can award a fumble recovery, with no ball advancement from the point of recovery, if and only if they judge that the fumble occurred before the whistle, and that ball was recovered immediately.

In all possible cases based on what happened on the field - player down by contact, fumble after the whistle and immediate recovery by a Lions player, or fumble before the whistle but no immediate recovery - it would be Lions ball. Just a question of ball placement. In the first case, it's where it was when the player was down. In the second, immediate recovery in the goal area would result in a touchdown. In the third, which is apparently what was ruled, based on the announcement, it would be Lions' ball at the point of the fumble, which was just outside the goal line, so scrimmaged at the one yard line.

As I said, I don't know why the whistle went so early. The player wasn't down yet and still had control of the ball. But it wouldn't have mattered who recovered the ball, according to the review official, as it was announced that the ball was not recovered immediately. Had the whistle not gone, or at least had not gone so early, possession would have been given to whoever recovered. But it was over three seconds, almost four, between the whistle and the fumble recovery. That's definitely not immediate.

HOWEVER

I just watched again, and I am now convinced that the picture and sound are out of synch. I hear the whistle go before the player is down, and then I see the official on the goal line, far side, raise his whistle to his mouth a second later before signaling a touchdown. So it was only two seconds bewteen the whistle and the fumble recovery.

Did the out-of-synch sound cause the review official to think the whistle had gone earlier, leading him to his decision that too much time had passed before the recovery? Or were the two seconds still too long a delay?

Great discussion CatsfaninOttawa. Very much enjoyed reading your take on that particular play and I thank you for you patience in taking the time to help me get a better picture of the situation. As I say it had really baffled me but not anymore. I can sleep now.

See, here is another case of totally inept and completely inconsistent interpretation of the rule book.

When is a whistle a whistle? We went through this back in September when Montreal was rewarded a fumble recovery way way WAY after a whistle when Toronto players let up on the play, Montreal players let up as well, but then restarted playing well after multiple whistles. It went to replay and the booth gave the ball to Montreal (it was an argo fumble).

Apparently in the Sask/BC PLAYOFF game the rule is different? Remember the announced ruling after the review was that 'BC did not IMMEDIATELY recover the fumble" therefore the ball is placed at the 1. But that play was almost completely bang bang. Certainly no more than 2 seconds after any whistle. The ball rolls forward and Paris Jackson falls on it. It does not get much more immediate than that.

WTF????

I'll point to another incident in the regular season in 2006, same Lions and Riders at Taylor Field. Riders forced overtime when Kerry Joseph scrambled up the middle, was caught from behind at the Lions 9, ball bounced and rolled deep into the endzone where Fantuz fell on it (his first CFL TD btw). Now this play did not involve a premature whistle, but the precedent is set that if a team fumbles the ball across the goal line and recovers it, it is a TD.

So I'm not sure exactly which rules were applied here but either way if that's not a TD for Paris then the booth needs to seriously get their heads out of their asses. That was inexcusable, complete incompetence. Officials on the field make calls in the heat of a split second. I can always forgive a human error on tough close call, but the booth gets multiple frame by frame angles. and all the time it needs to flip through the rule book. There is absolutely no excuse for this crap. If they can't get this right then we need to get rid of replay because it's a bloody waste of time.

What happened in the command center on Sunday was embarrassing. It was bush league. Fortunately the Lions still punched it in or the league would have SERIOUS egg on it's face this week. That was a PLAYOFF game FFS, get your sorry act together. I'm pissed about this.

My sentiments exactly! I don't think the officials or command centre wanted to admit anything. Jackson should have been awarded the TD. Even the announcers kept saying that if the ruling was that the ball did not cross the plane before Logan fumbled the ball it is moot because the Lions would be awarded the TD regardless only that Paris Jackson would get the credit. Now…. why did the announcers themselves believe that it was a TD and just a matter of announcing who the TD would be awarded to?