Jones Fumble: What Would Have Happened on Review?

Submitted by Needs on September 12th, 2010 at 10:15 PM

So, had they reviewed Jones' TD and determined he fumbled on the two, what would the ruling have been? Obviously, no touchdown. But the play was blown dead without either team having control of the ball, which remained on the field of play (ie did not roll out of the endzone for a potential touchback).

I suspect they would have awarded ND the ball at the point of the fumble, but really have no idea. Has anyone ever a similar play reviewed, and if so, what was the call?



September 12th, 2010 at 10:32 PM ^

I seem to recall hearing during a broadcast that players are now allowed to play through the whistle if there is a loose ball and that if a player who fumbled is ruled down, the play can be overturned on review and possession awarded to the opponent if they recover post-whistle.

In this case, I am in agreement with the contention that Michigan should have been awarded the ball on a touchback--though in hindsight I'm glad the refs let it go!


September 12th, 2010 at 10:32 PM ^

I think that rule only holds for down by contact whistles, but you're right about the whistle for the TD blowing the play dead.

Didn't this happen to Desean Jackson a few years ago in the NFL?

Just checked. Almost identical play, and the Eagles were awarded the ball on the one. So it looks like it would have been ND ball on the 1.


September 12th, 2010 at 10:34 PM ^

Similar play happened in a different game, don't recall which one but it wasn't reviewed either, and the ruling would have been a touchback (according to the announcers).


September 12th, 2010 at 10:36 PM ^

If they declare it a fumble, then it would be a touchback. They could also say that it was excessive celebration and assess a 15 yard penalty from the spot of the foul. There is nothing that would give them the ball at the 2 yard line.


September 12th, 2010 at 10:48 PM ^

So on this play... the Eagles were awarded the ball on the one.

But...Jackson threw the ball backward onto the field of play just prior to crossing the goal line. That could be the key difference.  Is the ruling basically, "live ball on field of play, blown dead, last team with possession retains at the point the ball stopped" vs. "live ball in end zone, blown dead, touchback defensive team?"

That logically makes sense, but I can only imagine how long it would have taken them to figure it out.


September 12th, 2010 at 10:55 PM ^

I have no written rule to back it up, but it seems to me that a ball picked up by a ref is like a ball going out of bounds.  Hence the difference you note.  If the fumbled ball goes out of bounds at the one, then it's ND's ball at the one.  If the fumbled ball goes out of the end zone, then it's a touchback.

Double Nickel BG

September 13th, 2010 at 5:17 AM ^

Different from he to college to nfl. Just because its one way in one of these doesn't mean its the same for the others. I have someone that knows a head ref in ncaa. Ill see if he can contact him and get an explanation on what would have happened.


September 12th, 2010 at 10:52 PM ^

Only a touchback if the ball had gone through the end zone or if a Michigan defender had jumped on the ball. You can't challenge a loose ball and arbitarily award it to the other team, the best that could be done would be ND ball at the spot of the fumble.


September 12th, 2010 at 11:07 PM ^

I think it would have been ND's ball at the one (the spot of the fumble).  Of course, they really should have had it at the 16, since he should've been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. 


September 12th, 2010 at 11:21 PM ^

I think rule 4-1-2-b-2 applies here:

"If an official sounds his whistle inadvertently or otherwise signals the ball dead during a down when the ball is loose from a fumble, backward pass or illegall pass, then the team in possession may elect to put the ball in play where possession was lost OR replay the down."

Since the referee "signaled the ball dead" by calling a touchdown, I think this rule applies.  Loose ball, referee signals the play dead, Notre Dame can choose to (1) put it in play at the 3 yard line where possession was lost or (2) replay the down.  Obviously they choose (1)--Notre Dame ball, first and goal.

This doesn't seem fair to give the option to the team that fumbled, but there it is.


September 13th, 2010 at 6:21 AM ^

What first must be understood is that an officials whistle does not end a given play. The whistle is used as a tool to halt the action on the field but "playing to the whistle" is not a proper coaching method because often times a play is ended by the action on the field well before the official blows his whistle. Second, as soon as that ball crosses the goal line the play is dead, whistle or no. In this circumstance rule 4-1-2-b-2 doesnt apply because the play is dead by the position of the ball not by an early or inadvertent whistle.

In this isntance the team with posession(ND) has fumbled the ball at the opposing teams 2 yard line. The ball rolls into the endzone and becomes dead immediately. With the play dead and the ball not in posession by either team the ball is awarded to the team last in posession at the spot of the fumble.


September 13th, 2010 at 8:43 AM ^

I don't see this as correct, Bighousemike84.  Do you think you might be confusing this with an NFL rule or maybe a High School federation rule?  Your conclusion (ND ball at the 2) is essentially correct, but the way you get there (dead ball when it crosses the goal line) is wrong.

If a team fumbles into its opponent's end zone, the ball does not become dead immediately.  The ball is live.  If the fumbling team recovers, it is a touchdown.  If the non-fumbling team recovers, it is a touchback.  If the ball goes out of bounds in the end zone, it is also a touchback and possession goes to the non-fumbling team.

If the referee had called it correctly, he would not have signalled anything.  He would have thrown the bean bag at the 3-yard-line where the Notre Dame player dropped the ball, and the ball would have been (a) recovered by Notre Dame for a touchdown, (b) recovered by Michigan for a touchback, or (c) dead by virtue of going out of bounds in the end zone for a Michigan touchback.

Instead, the referee signalled touchdown, immediately making the play an "inadvertent whistle" play and calling into effect Rule 4-1-2-b-2 quoted above.


September 13th, 2010 at 8:51 AM ^

The play isn't dead when the ball goes into the end zone unless an offensive player is carrying it. People fumble into the end zone all the time--if the offense recovers it it's a touchdown and if the defense recovers it (or it goes out of bounds in the end zone), it's the defense's ball at the 20.

The discussion here is what happens because it wasn't recovered and the play was blown dead, but it definitely wasn't automatically dead just because the ball went in the end zone.


September 13th, 2010 at 9:08 AM ^

what about the new anti-celebration rule that was implemented this year that was supposed to be a 15 yard penalty for excessive celebrations? wouldn't this count since it was actually on the field of play?  then wouldn't it have been irish ball at the 16?


September 13th, 2010 at 9:18 AM ^

I am a High School Offical.  In HS rules this is a touchback, no question.  Team A runner possess the ball and fumbles from the field of play into the endzone.  While the ball is NOT possessed by either team the play is blown dead (presumed Touchdown), therefore the ball is award to the defense at team B's 20.


I do not have my rule book at work to site the specific rule but it's a touchback.  Happens often in HS.