The Bizarre Ending To The Bucs-Saints Game Reveals A Huge Loophole In The NFL Rulebook

Weird stuff from Tampa, where the Saints beat the Bucs 35-28 after a last-second, game-tying touchdown was called back because of a bizarre confluence of rules.

Basically, the wide receiver Mike Williams was pushed out of bounds, came back in, and caught the ball. Normally, you are allowed to catch the ball if you are pushed out of bounds as long as you reestablish yourself, because the push itself is an illegal contact penalty on the defence.

But since QB Josh Freeman was outside the pocket on this play, it was totally legal for the defender to push Williams out of bounds (illegal contact can only occur if the QB is in the pocket). As a result, Williams was not allowed to be the first player to touch the ball after going out of bounds.

So in effect, you are allowed to push receivers out of bounds and eliminate them from the play if the QB is outside the pocket.

Seems like an absurd rule, no? Won’t every team now just push receivers out of bounds when QBs are scrambling at the ends of games? Here’s the play:

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