Matt Millen Doesn't Know the Rules
I've often -- when writing The Zebra Report -- cautioned against taking the announcers' word as the law when it comes to interpreting rules. Thursday night's game between the Browns and Steelers would be a perfect example of why. In case you didn't see it (we'll get a highlight up once it's posted), Chris Jennings scored a second-quarter touchdown in which he walked the proverbial tightrope down the sideline. His lower leg hit the pylon, but he had the football in his outside arm. Since the ball was technically out of bounds but the player wasn't, is that still a touchdown? Well, the short answer is yes.
Picture a runner headed for the front corner of the end zone at a 45-degree angle with the ball in his outside arm. His feet cross inside the pylon. Can you imagine how ridiculous it would be if this wasn't a touchdown?
But Millen was adamant the play would be overturned because the ball was outside the pylon and that the rule was changed a few years ago due to some play involving Michael Vick. He even talked about being there when the competition committee discussed it. He said something about "that 'goal line extended all around the world' thing isn't in the rule anymore. It has to be inbounds and break the plane."
The only problem is that he's wrong and that section of the rule only applies to airborne runners. I knew this, but I was hoping to find a play in the case book (a section of the rulebook where they draw up hypothetical plays and offer up what the result of the play should be with an explanation). I was not disappointed. In fact, the explanation given directly contradicts what Millen was saying.
Runner A1 takes handoff and runs down the sideline toward the goal line with the ball in his outside arm. He crosses the goal line plane standing with the ball to the outside of the pylon.
Ruling: Touchdown. Part of the ball crossing over or inside the pylon only applies to an airborne runner who lands out of bounds.
As I've said many times, the broadcasters really need to stop trying to educate the masses when it comes to the rulebook. It only makes the officials -- who are maligned enough from the general fans -- look worse.
Of course, someone must have given him a tutorial at halftime, because on the first drive of the second half, Millen went out of his way to correct himself and then "explain" the rule to us morons at home. Thanks, Matt! Next up, he'll try to explain why drafting a wide receiver early in the first round for three straight years is the best way to build a football team.