Down three points to the Buffalo Bills with 14 seconds remaining, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had no choice but to get freaky. And they did, with a classic hook-and-lateral play. For a moment, it looked like it would work … and then it all went straight to hell and Tampa Bay lost. But in what has to be one of the longest plays, time-wise, in NFL history, Tampa Bay at least put a bit of life into the last play of the game.
Check out the play-by-play writeup:
(0:08 – 4th) (Shotgun) J.Winston pass short left to A.Humphries to TB 36 for 5 yards. Lateral to C.Sims III to TB 33 for -3 yards. Lateral to M.Evans to TB 25 for -8 yards. FUMBLES, recovered by TB-D.Smith at TB 25. D.Smith to TB 30 for 5 yards. Lateral to C.Brate to TB 23 for -7 yards. FUMBLES, recovered by TB-M.Evans at TB 23. M.Evans to TB 23 for no gain. Lateral to A.Humphries to TB 20 for -3 yards. Lateral to C.Sims III to TB 14 for -6 yards. Lateral to D.Jackson to TB 6 for -8 yards. Lateral to M.Evans to TB 14 for 8 yards. Lateral to D.Jackson to TB 29 for 15 yards (M.Dareus).
Let’s break this mess down by the numbers:
• Total time: 45 seconds
• Total Bucs who touched the ball: 7
• Total exchanges: 11
• Total yardage: 68 yards
• Total net yardage: Minus 2 yards
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The Los Angeles Rams are challenging the Seattle Seahawks in what’s suddenly a matchup for supremacy in the NFC West. And while the Rams held the edge early, they were victimized by the absolute worst rule in football: the fumble that becomes a touchback.
The story: The Rams’ Todd Gurley II was rumbling toward the end zone when Seattle’s Earl Thomas executed a perfect chop on the ball. Gurley lost control, fumbling as he stumbled out of bounds. The ball shot forward, tipping the pylon as it went.
It’s a bizarre, absurdly punitive rule, one that substitutes geometric chance (the height of the pylon over the field) for logistical sanity. Under rational circumstances, the ball would belong to Los Angeles on the goal line, and would be an eventual near-certain touchdown for the Rams. Nowhere else on the field is the ball turned over to the other team without that team seizing control of it, except for a safety.
Instead, we’ve got this wonky, badly applied appendix of a rule that warps the entire complexion of the game. What is this, golf?
The play had significant repercussions for the Rams, who ended up losing 16-10. It’s an unfortunate bad break that the NFL really ought to address.