Ground cant cause fumble?

Submitted by superstringer on November 6th, 2011 at 7:18 PM
Denard's fumble confuses me. Maybe someone knows the rule.

For 4 decades of watching football I thought a tenet is "the ground cant cause a fumble." I thought that if a runner tluches the ball to the ground, the play is dead -- the runner is down.

So Denard, hding the ball, touched it to the ground. Ball came free because impact with the ground jarred ball free.

To me, play is dead there, he's down. Ground cant't cause him to fumble.

So why was that a fumble? What subpart of a subprovision of subsection of a subrule do I not know?

Its not like I can blame the refs. No one on TV said it, Home didnt point to the refs, etc.



November 7th, 2011 at 1:18 AM ^

b. When any part of the ball carrier’s body, except his hand or foot, touches the ground or when the ball carrier is tackled or otherwise falls and loses possession of the ball as he contacts the ground with any part of his body, except his hand or foot [Exception: The ball remains alive when an offensive player has simulated a kick or at the snap is in position to kick the ball held for a place kick by a teammate. The ball may be kicked, passed or advanced by rule] (A.R. 4-1-3-I).

Like many others, I distinctly recall instances of a ball carrier being ruled down when the ball carrier touched only the ball to the ground.

But perhaps it's an NFL rule, or a rule from the past that has been changed. I can't find it anywhere in the rulebook.


November 6th, 2011 at 7:24 PM ^

The more appropriate version of that football aphorism is "the player going to the ground cannot cause a fumble."  If you brace your fall with the ball and never go to the ground with your body, and then drop the ball, that's a fumble.  Another famous occurence was in a Tennessee/Arkansas battle of unbeatens in 1998.

About 2:50 in that video.

Jews for Beezus

November 6th, 2011 at 7:56 PM ^

"The ground can't cause a fumble" is something oft repeated that actually isn't true. What the rule basically states is that an elbow or knee being down ends the play, and it's hard for the ball to be on the ground without the players body also touching the ground. Players don't often get mashed into the ground without being down, and at that point they can't fumble. It's just easier to say that the ground can't cause a fumble.


November 6th, 2011 at 8:15 PM ^

No, a knee or elbow being down does not instantly end the play. On a catch where the receiver is falling to the ground, he has to maintain possession through the impact with the ground, which Hemingway didn't do. He had the ball in his hands the whole time, but when the nose of the ball hit the ground, it moved around in his hands and thus it wasn't a legal reception.

The refs were the least of our worries in the game yesterday. They didn't force all of the mistakes we made on offense. They didn't make Iowa's OL manhandle our DL and let Coker run for 130. We got beat because when Iowa hit us in the mouth, we didn't respond. We weren't prepared, and Iowa was.

The FannMan

November 6th, 2011 at 10:02 PM ^

I agree that the refs were not all of our problems.  However, the pass interference that was called and then picked up w/o any explanation was horrible.  Recall that the next play was the fumble.  Also, the red zone pick at the end of the first half was clearly a PI on Iowa and Michigan ball, first and goal.  Instead, it was Iowa ball and the end of a score chance.  Those two horrible calls made it impossible to recover given our other issues.  Without them, I think we win.

I will wait for the UFR, but I think the Coker issue was less about being tough as our LBs not filling the hole.  They are going back to standing immediatelky behind Martin rather than filling the hole next to him.  I don't get that.


November 7th, 2011 at 10:30 AM ^

I will add another PI here: the last play of the game. I thought it was clearly interference live and the replay did nothing to change my mind. I believe the announcers were discussing it as well, though I was too sick at that point to really listen to them much.

I'm not trying to pull a Penn State circa 2005 and say anyone was in the bag, just that it's undeniable that the officiating was not good - to Michigan's detriment. There were many self inflicted wounds (4th and 7 argh!), but those three uncalled PIs were killer.

I can only think of one close call that went Michigan's way: the 4th and 1 illegal snap. Live I thought Mike Martin got away with one, but the replay showed that the call was definitely correct (though frankly Martin was lucky someone on the officiating crew caught it because of how subtle it was - it could have easily been missed and he would have given Iowa the free first down at a critical point in the game). The fumble and the Vincent Smith TD run being overturned were clearly correct calls. The Hemingway TD was close enough that it's hard to blame the refs or the replay official (though, for the record, it looked like the ball didn't move and I was hoping it would be an anti MSU v Wisconsin). I thought there were a few missed holding calls, but they went both ways. Those the PI no-calls, along with one or two others that looked like probable defensive holdings but were at the edge of the TV picture and weren't thrown at, are probably the game's biggest storyline for me.


November 6th, 2011 at 9:16 PM ^

What Denard did yesterday was akin to just placing the ball on the ground because his knee or elbow didnt touch the ground.  Thus, a fumble.