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Replay pushed Jalen Hurts into the end zone

An unusual call at the goal line got stranger in replay. We break down the call



An unusual ruling occurred on an Eagles 4th & goal and it had nothing to do with a push-sneak play.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is ruled to have fumbled into the end zone. Even though it was recovered by the Eagles in the end zone, since it is a fourth-down play, all forward fumbles revert back to the fumble spot unless it is the fumbling player that recovers.

This was announced very well by referee Scott Novak.

More on the fourth-down fumble rules can be found in this post.

Now, the play goes to the replay booth because any failed fourth down is an automatic review under new rules this year. And it got stranger.

Replay overturned the play to a touchdown, on the premise that Hurts broke the plane of the goal line with control of the ball.

As pointed out on the broadcast, the league’s Hawkeye system gets all TV cameras fed into it, so it is not dependent upon TV to show a definitive angle. Additionally, the system can play any two angles side-by-side in sync to compare elements. So the question we are all asking is, how did replay determine that Hurts didn’t have a knee down prior to crossing the goal line? The short answer is, they didn’t have to.

If there is no angle that definitively puts Hurts down short of the line, we go back to the call on the field, which is the ball was fumbled into the end zone. That triggers a second reviewable element that Hurts actually lost the ball after crossing the goal line. Since that is the case, then Hurts who was not ruled down by down judge Mark Stewart has broken the plane of the goal with the ball.

In essence, replay pushed Hurts into the end zone.

To summarize, replay could not overturn the call on the field that Hurts was down prior to fumbling, but could overturn to having the ball breaking the plane of the goal in possession because neither replay nor the down judge have him down at that point.

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)