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First flag on new leaping rule is a questionable call

In this case, holding the flag in the pocket was the better call.



Week 1: Cardinals at Lions

Lions defensive lineman Anthony Zettel was flagged for a leaping foul on a field goal attempt. This is part of the new rule that prohibits a player from running forward and leaping. However, Zettel is a down lineman, and the rule very specifically applies to players behind the line of scrimmage.

Rule 12-3-1(r), with my emphasis:

Running forward and leaping across the line of scrimmage in an obvious attempt to block a field goal or Try Kick, unless the player was in a stationary position on the line of scrimmage when the ball was snapped. A player who is behind the line of scrimmage before, or at the snap, may run forward and leap, provided he does not cross the line of scrimmage or land on players.

It is possible that they meant to call leverage, a call where you use an opponent or teammate to gain height on a kick-block attempt. But, in this case, holding the flag in the pocket was the better call.

The Cardinals opted to take the field goal off the board and enforce half-distance with an automatic first down. (It also could have been enforced on the kickoff.) Three plays later, the Cardinals settled for a field goal.

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)

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