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The offense can advance a fumble?


GarySJ
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I realize most of you didn't watch because the Bucs game was on at the same time, but there was a ruling in the Dolphins-Jags game that surprised me.

On third and goal from about the 6, Jay Fielder made a dump-off pass to backup RB Ayanbadejo at the 3 yard line, who fumbled the ball FORWARD, where it was picked up and run into the end zone by Dolphins TE Randy McMichael.

I could have sworn the offense couldn't advance a fumble in the NFL, because of the "holy roller" play the Raiders pulled in the 70s. Ken Stabler very intentionally "fumbled" the ball forward, where Dave Casper fell on it in the end zone for a game-winning TD.

They called for a video review, but only to determine if Ayanbadejo was down. He wasn't. I thought they would rule that it was a fumble that was recovered but could not be advanced, giving Miami 4th and goal from the spot of the fumble. But the TD stood.

Anyone know the rule on this?

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Isn't the main part of the advancing fumble rule dealing with the "intentional" part of the equation? If the fumble is being scrambled after (or in this case-- LOST) on the ground-- anyone can come along and pick it up and go in either direction. I also thought some other players from both teams touched the ball on that play. It must be a judgment call from the officials as to the intent of how the fumble occurs.

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It seems to me that the purpose of the rule was to free the officials from the onerous task of having to judge "intent" in a touchy situation like this. That can be difficult to do; a hard-and-fast rule removes the incentive to fake a fumble, and saves the refs from having to make a difficult judgment call.

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I found the explanation:

4. On a play from scrimmage, if an offensive player fumbles anywhere on the field during fourth down, only the fumbling player is permitted to recover and/or advance the ball. If any player fumbles after the two-minute warning in a half, only the fumbling player is permitted to recover and/or advance the ball. If recovered by any other offensive player, the ball is dead at the spot of the fumble unless it is recovered behind the spot of the fumble. In that case, the ball is dead at the spot of recovery. Any defensive player may recover and/or advance any fumble at any time.

So the offense may advance a fumble so long as it is not the last two minutes of the half, or fourth down. Neither was the case on the play in the Dolphins game.

From http://www.nfl.com/fans/rules/fumble

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