Shutdown Corner

Video: Dalton lucks out on tuck rule with backward/forward pass

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

Sunday, Chris Chase put up a post with video that showed you the absolutely indefensible call made by Gene Steratore's crew in the Sunday night game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. In that game, Michael Vick clearly threw a forward pass that was ruled a backward pass until a review overturned the call.

Well, in what some might term a makeup call across games, here's a very much backward pass from Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton early in the second quarter in his team's Sunday afternoon win over the Seattle Seahawks:

Former NFL VP of officiating (and current rules analyst for Fox Sports) Mike Pereira explained this call on his Twitter account as follows:

In regards to Dalton - if the arm starts going forward, it doesn't matter where the ball ends up as long as the forward progress has started.

Ordinarily, I find Pereira's opinions hard to accept without taking a very close look, since he's generally going to defend his old cronies whether they're right or not. But in this case, he would be right … If Dalton's arm started to go forward, it's a forward pass under the Tuck Rule. What it looks like on the replay is that he's actually throwing to the side before he inexplicably hurls it backward and right into the official behind him. Dalton pump-fakes forward, but actually throws to the side and back.

So, it was a bang-bang call that could have gone either way. In this case, it set the Bengals up with second-and-10 at their own 14-yard line. No loss of yardage, and because the official behind Dalton acted as an ad hoc goalie, he was able to recover the ball.

The most interesting aspect of this play was that according to the official play-by-play, this call was not reviewable. So, here's the apparent rule: You can review a called backward pass that is actually a forward pass, but you cannot review a called forward pass that could very well be a backward pass.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why the NFL makes sense.

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