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Lions QB hurt, allowed to return for TD



Week 11: Browns at Lions

In addition to the squabbling in the Browns locker room over the quarter-extending penalty, there was a confusing substitution on the second chance awarded to the Lions by penalty (video).

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford suffered a separated shoulder after being hit on a Hail Mary pass, which, by rule, requires a player to sit out for a down. While the gamebook shows the official scorekeeper was confused (it is listed as two consecutive timeouts by the Browns, which is not allowed) the Lions were assessed a fourth timeout because of injury. This is granted without penalty, according to Rule 4, Section 5, Article 4:

(d) No yardage penalty will be assessed for the first excess team timeout.

Should a fifth timeout be required for an injury, it would result in a 5-yard penalty.

Backup quarterback Dante Culpepper entered the field for the untimed down, which the caused  Browns to call a timeout to assess the situation. This opened the door for Stafford to return, even though he had not sat out for a play, under the same rule/section/article above:

(c) The player must leave the game for the completion of one down, unless:

(i) the injury is the result of a foul by an opponent; or
(ii) either team calls a charged team timeout.

Of course, the Browns will blame the officiating, rather than accept that they allowed a quarterback with a separated shoulder throw a last-chance, game-winning touchdown.

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)