Worst rule in football robs Rams of touchdown, possession

The Los Angeles Rams are challenging the Seattle Seahawks in what’s suddenly a matchup for supremacy in the NFC West. And while the Rams held the edge early, they were victimized by the absolute worst rule in football: the fumble that becomes a touchback.

The story: The Rams’ Todd Gurley II was rumbling toward the end zone when Seattle’s Earl Thomas executed a perfect chop on the ball. Gurley lost control, fumbling as he stumbled out of bounds. The ball shot forward, tipping the pylon as it went.

Todd Gurley reaching for the end zone. (Getty)
Todd Gurley reaching for the end zone. (Getty)

The result: touchback, Seattle’s ball.

It’s a bizarre, absurdly punitive rule, one that substitutes geometric chance (the height of the pylon over the field) for logistical sanity. Under rational circumstances, the ball would belong to Los Angeles on the goal line, and would be an eventual near-certain touchdown for the Rams. Nowhere else on the field is the ball turned over to the other team without that team seizing control of it.

Instead, we’ve got this wonky, badly applied appendix of a rule that warps the entire complexion of the game. What is this, golf?

The play had significant repercussions for the Rams, who ended up losing 16-10. It’s an unfortunate bad break that the NFL really ought to address.

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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