Should the Falcons' fumble recovery been a safety, a touchback or something else?

BY Dieter Kurtenbach • January 22, 2017

Was it a safety? Was it a touchback? Should the ball have been at the 1-yard line?

Atlanta Falcons defender Jalen Collins' second-quarter fumble recovery in Sunday's NFC Championship game had the football-watching universe asking questions.

What the world saw: Collins fell on top of Aaron Ripkowski's fumble on the Atlanta 1-yard line and then rolled into the end zone before being touched down.

What's the ruling there?

Well, it wasn't a safety.

The NFL rulebook is clear about it.

Rule 11, Section 5, Article 1 reads that:

If a defensive player, in the field of play, intercepts a pass or catches or recovers a fumble, backward pass, scrimmage kick, free kick, or fair catch kick, and his original momentum carries him into his end zone where the ball is declared dead in his team’s possession. The ball belongs to the defensive team at the spot where the player’s foot or other body part touched the ground to establish possession.

The ball should have been placed at the 1-yard line, which would have forced the Falcons to go 99 yards to the end zone, instead of 80.

Though with the way Matt Ryan and Co. were playing, that difference might be moot.


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