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Week 12

Double ejection follows longest post-play joint possession; Fournette suspended

Walt Coleman’s crew tossed two players in Buffalo after a fight breaks out around a sideline catch ruled a touchdown.



Week 12: Jaguars at Bills

Post updated 11/26 to reflect the suspension of Fournette.

Walt Coleman’s crew tossed two players in Buffalo after a fight breaks out around a sideline catch ruled a touchdown.

Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette and Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson exchanged blows while Donte Moncrief and Levi Wallace struggle for control of the ball. Very clear who the combatants are, but senior vice president of officiating has said that he confirmed the ejections under the replay protocol for disqualifications. 

Fournette was suspended by the league on Monday. The NFL’s vice president in charge of disciplinary measures, Jon Runyan, cited three violations surrounding the post-play activity: Rules 12-3-1(b) (taunting), 12-2-12 (striking an opponent), and 12-3-1(a) (throwing a punch at an opponent).

Fournette can appeal the suspension with a decision due by Thursday. If the suspension is upheld, Fournette will miss the game against the Colts on Dec. 2. In the letter to Fournette, Runyan laid out the case against him:

Sportsmanship is the cornerstone of the game and the League will not tolerate game-related misconduct that conveys a lack of respect for the game itself and those involved in it… Video of the incident shows that you were not a participant in the play and that you ran from your sideline to the opposite side of the field to insert yourself as an active participant in a fight. Once you entered the fight area, you struck a member of the opposing team. Your actions adversely reflected on the NFL and have no place in the game.

Lawson will be fined, but will not face a suspension.

Separate from the fight, the catch and the touchdown were also under review. Moncrief, the Jaguars receiver, had control of the ball easily before Wallace had any control of the ball. In this case, it is not a simultaneous possession call, but rather a joint possession call — in this case, the offense wins possession because control was established by Moncrief first. All of the grabbing and jostling after the play was dead was all irrelevant, and could have been a delay of game had there not been the fight and if Wallace ignores a command to separate.

The touchdown was overturned to down at the 1.

Fournette and Lawson are the 12th and 13th ejections this year.

NFL ejections for the 2018 season

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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