Connect with us


Bucs’ tying TD nullified on illegal touch foul



Saints at Buccaneers (video)

On the final play of regulation, down by seven points, Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman threw a potential game-tying touchdown pass to receiver Mike Williams. Williams was pushed out of bounds and re-established himself in the end zone prior to catching the pass. However, once you step out of bounds, you may not be the first player to touch the pass, regardless of how you went out of bounds. Therefore, it was illegal touching of a forward pass, and since time had expired, the game was over.

Because Freeman was rolling out of the pocket at that point, it is technically a running play, and illegal contact cannot be called against the defense. Therefore, the push that propelled Williams out of bounds is legal. Had the ball been in the air, it would have been defensive pass interference, extending the game by one untimed down however it would have offset by the illegal touch penalty, also ending the game. (Update, see comments below.)

Rule 8-1-8, with key point highlighted:

It is a foul for illegal touching if a forward pass (legal or illegal), thrown from behind the line of scrimmage … first touches or is caught by an eligible receiver who has gone out of bounds, either of his own volition or by being legally forced out of bounds, and has re-established himself inbounds.

Update 10/22: One other item I neglected to note with all of the attention on the final play is the ruling on the prior play (pictured above and also in the video link). A pass to the back of the end zone was ruled incomplete with the receiver’s heels landing out of bounds. Tony Steratore emphatically and decisively had the call, which was correct in real time without the benefit of replay.

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)

Continue Reading