NFL’s Competition Committee Debates Rule Change for Fumbling Through End Zone

The NFL’s Competition Committee discussed changing the current rules regarding fumbling the ball through the end zone on Monday, according to Judy Battista of

However, Battista noted that there is “not much traction” for a change to the rule, which currently awards the possession to the defense on a touchback after an offensive player fumbles the ball through the end zone. The committee reportedly believes that the play happens rarely and it’s the “ballcarrier’s responsibility” to protect the football at the goal line.

Some have argued that the rule is too negatively impactful, as the offense receives the ball after fumbling out of bounds at any part of the field that isn’t in the end zone. However, a fumble into the end zone that travels out of bounds results in the opposing team gaining possession.

It can also be argued that a fumble through the end zone is more costly than a fumble at any other spot on the field and should warrant a harsher punishment for the offense.

Discussion regarding the topic was sparked once again during the Kansas City Chiefs’ matchup with the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round of the playoffs. Although the Chiefs won by the final score of 27-24, their victory included the touchback rule.

With Kansas City holding a three-point advantage and just over 12 minutes remaining in the game, wide receiver Mecole Hardman took a short pass inside Buffalo’s 10-yard line and attempted to reach the ball out and break the plane of the end zone. However, Bills safety Jordan Poyer punched the football out before it went through the end zone to give Buffalo the ball back at the Chiefs’ 20-yard line.

NFL Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent questioned if the rule was “too punitive” on Dec. 13 and said that the league will take a look at it (via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport). It doesn’t appear that any significant change will be coming ahead of the 2024 season, though.

2024-02-27 00:26:08
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