NFL Analyst Tells League to Suspend End-Zone Touchback Fumble Rule After Cleveland Browns Loss to Kansas City Chiefs

Published 01/18/2021, 1:04 PM EST
Jan 17, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (80) scores a touchdown ahead of Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward (35) during the second half in the AFC Divisional Round playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports


The Cleveland Browns lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs. The Chiefs lost Patrick Mahomes early in the game to a potential concussion.

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However, the true turning point in the game came when the Browns turned over possession in the end zone when they fumbled the ball for a possible touchdown.

There was major outrage over the touchback fumble rule after the game. Many felt that the rule is unwarranted. NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky concurred with the assessment. He declared that the rule was ridiculous and there was an easy alternative for the NFL to implement.

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He said, “It’s a stupid rule, and the NFL needs to change it. I get it, like everyone goes, ‘Well, give me an alternative’. Well, here you go – in the NFL, when you fumble the football, to recover there needs to be a clear and obvious recovery. When it goes out of bounds, there is no clear recovery.” 

NFL called into action over the rule

He further noted that the ball would be returned to the offensive unit if the ball was lost in the mid-range. However, if the ball was fumbled going forward, a penalty would be appropriate.

“So the ball would naturally go back to the offense if it was in the middle of the field. When you fumble the football forward and it goes out of bounds without a clear and obvious recovery, it goes back to the spot of the fumble.

“Now, if we want to penalize 10 yards when that situation happens, and it’s got to go back to the 11-yard line, that’s fine.” 

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Jan 17, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half in the AFC Divisional Round playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Orlovsky criticized the NFL for continuously penalizing the offensive team going forward, and getting the defensive unit out of trouble whenever there was a fumble made by the offensive unit. He noted that the league needed to amend this rule moving forward so that they won’t be subject to criticism.

He stated, “But to sit here and constantly penalize a team for fumbling at the one-yard line… The fact that we have to constantly penalize offenses for being aggressive or playing with effort in that situation is stupid and the NFL needs to rectify this rule to stop rewarding the defense and constantly penalizing the offense.”

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Will the NFL finally change this rule? The league has not found a reason to do it so far, but growing complaints will urge them to finally take action.

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Aaditya Krishnamurthy

1157 articles

Aaditya Krishnamurthy is an NBA & NFL journalist for EssentiallySports, before which he worked at BusinessWorld magazine. He has been a fan of Basketball for over 10 years now, since Shaquille O’Neal was a Phoenix Suns player. During his time at Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, he started a sports magazine for the college called the Overtime Tribune and hosted the Overtime Tribune Podcast until he graduated.

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