Is this karate kick forced fumble vs. Giants RB Dion Lewis a legal NFL play?

This is not a fundamentally sound football play.

But it is effective.

Trailing 6-0 in the second quarter against the Arizona Cardinals, the New York Giants had sparsely used running back Dion Lewis return a kickoff. Lewis was met by linebacker Kylie Fitts, who kicked the football out of his hands.

Yes, he actually kicked the ball while Lewis was carrying it.

The Cardinals picked up the loose ball and scored a touchdown four plays later to extend their lead to 13-0. Arizona eventually won, 26-7.

Dion Lewis #33 of the New York Giants runs the ball in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Dion Lewis fumbled after a Cardinals defender kicked the ball. (Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

So ... is that legal?

That’s definitely not a forced fumble you see every Sunday in the NFL. Was it legal?

If it was deliberate it was not. Per Section 5, Article II of the NFL rulebook, “No player may deliberately kick a loose ball or a ball that is in a player’s possession.”

So either the officials didn’t see Fitts’ kick. Or they determined that he didn’t do it on purpose. According to Fox’s NFL rules analyst Dean Blandino, officials can’t use replay to determine Fitts’ intent on the play.

So if they didn’t determine that he kicked the ball on purpose in real time, there was no changing their minds no matter how intentional it may have looked on video review.

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