The Washington Redskins moved to 3-2 on the season after beating the Baltimore Ravens 16-10, thanks in part to the NFL rule book.
In the third quarter, leading the Ravens 13-10, the Redskins snapped the ball from their own three-yard line. Kirk Cousins dropped back into Washington’s own end zone and attempted a pass for a first down that was picked off by Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley.
Mosley took the ball and began running for the end zone. As he got closer, he reached the ball out for the touchdown, lost control, fumbled it, and the ball rolled into the end zone.
Because the ball rolled through the end zone as a fumble, it was ruled a touchback. Washington reclaimed possession, this time on first-and-10 on their own 20-yard line.
Another look at the fumble:
A bad play by Mosley, to be sure, but it’s a controversial rule that some in the NFL world have a problem with.
Normally, a fumble out of bounds means the team retains possession and the ball is placed where it went out of bounds. Instead, Mosley’s good defensive play turned into a gain for Washington — they moved up 17 yards, from their own three to the 20. On the ensuing drive, they kicked a field goal to take a 16-10 lead, and neither team scored again.
After the game, Mosley said, “Two hands on the ball, that’s about all I can say. I tried to make a good play, and it ended up backfiring. If I ever get this chance again, I’m not going to dive with one hand.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh added, “You have to hold onto the ball there. That’s a very costly [play]. Not only do you lose the turnover, you lose 19 yards of field position. I think it’s a crazy rule, but we have to understand that, and you have to protect the football when you’re doing that.”
CBS’s Will Brinson argued that the rule doesn’t pass the “common sense test,” saying, “the Redskins advanced the ball from the 3-yard line to the 20 as a result of the interception turned fumble turned touchback.”
This wasn’t the game-deciding play, but it was a game-changing play. The Ravens had a chance to go up 16-13. Instead, their offence couldn’t get going in the fourth quarter, and they fell to 3-2 on the season in the competitive AFC North.
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