Minor rule change makes big difference for AS-J

Some (particularly Jets fans) may remember the Austin Seferian-Jenkins TD last season that was overturned to be a touchback. Well, new wording in the rule is set to make the result different if it happens in 2018.

The play in question is this one from the game against the Patriots:

In the play, Seferian-Jenkins completed a pass and was fighting to get into the end zone. During that tussle he momentarily losses possession of the ball (as can be seen in the picture below). In order to regain possession under the old rule wording, he would need to regain control and get two feet inbounds.

During those brief moments, he touched out of bounds, which makes the ball out of bounds by rule. As his team was responsible for the ball being dead in the end zone the result of the play is therefore a touchback and not a TD.

Rule 3-2-5 has been amended (new text underlined) to say:

A Fumble is any act, other than passing, successful handing, or legally kicking the ball, which results in a loss of player possession. It is not a fumble if the player immediately regains control of the ball. The use of the term Fumble always means that the ball was in possession of a player when the act occurred.

So if the same play happened in 2018, Seferian-Jenkins would be awarded the score.

This new wording came to light during a media session on the new rules at Jets training camp. Referee Tony Corrente was part of the discussion in replay that correctly ruled the ball a fumble in 2017 and he was partly responsible for getting it changed.

“A group of officials — I was one of them — were allowed to make suggestions about rule changes. And, I actually put this one up,” – Tony Corrente
This rule change only applies to the player who already has possession of the ball. This change does not apply to a receiver who is securing a pass by a double-clutch of the ball.

Corrente went on to say, “If I’m a runner, and I momentarily lose control — I lost it and grabbed it — it’s still your ball.”