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NFL Rules Corner: When is a fumble out of the end zone a touchback?

Well, friends, it’s hard to say.

Minnesota Vikings v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Section 7, Article 3, Item 4-a of the 2023 NFL rule book says, “If a ball is fumbled in the field of play, and goes forward into the opponent’s end zone and over the end line or sideline, a touchback is awarded to the defensive team;”

This is important for all of us to know, because the Philadelphia Eagles were saved from giving up points right before halftime thanks to it! With 41 seconds left in the half, and the Birds holding a 10-7 lead, Kirk Cousins found Justin Jefferson deep down the left sideline for a 30-yard gain. The ball popped out thanks to a tackle by Terrell Edmunds and it went through the end zone.

OR DID IT?????

The official on the field threw his beanbag down around the half-yard line and declared that the Vikings had first and goal. Since there were under two minutes left in the half the play went to the booth and, well, it was ruled that the ball went over the pylon meaning it’s a touchback and Philadelphia ball!

Thanks to that review, the Eagles got the ball back and were able to drive it partway down the field and Jake Elliott booted a 61-yard field goal to give Philly a 13-7 lead at halftime. I’m sure that Primetime Kirk Cousins will be able to figure it all out in the second half and lead the Vikings to victory.

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