Tuesday, September 09, 2008
In the NFL, a player fumbles when he drops the ball or gets it pulled or knocked out by his opponent. The quarterback is the exception, because the ball can only be fumbled before the pass actually starts. When the pass starts is determined by the point at which his arm is all the way back, and he starts a forward motion. After the forward motion starts, a knocked out ball is an incomplete pass; before it is a fumble.
In the Jets game, we had such an occurence. Brett Favre dropped back to pass, and was stripped of the ball by Matt Roth. As you can see - and the official saw from the replay - Favre's arm was back when the ball came out, so it was indeed a fumble.
But, what the officials missed was this: the ball was stripped at the 28, but was recovered at about the 10 by Miami. Now, its not that unsual for a ball to "squirt" out and bounce around.
But, take a look at what Favre is doing in this snap. He's reaching for the ball, and in our opinion trying to bat it (swat it) forward to create something. Maybe his team recovers and gets a first down? It struck me at the time that this was a crafty move by a veteran.
The problem is that this is an illegal play. Favre should have been flagged for illegally batting the ball forward. Typically, this would be a 10 yard penalty from the spot of the foul. But, the question is how would they enforce the penalty? The rule states that the defense would take over at the spot of the infraction; that is it would be Miami's ball at about the 18.
The officials blew this call, I think.
[our respects to CBS, the NFL, and the Dolphins]