The NFL clarifies the rule at the center of the Lions-Cowboys controversy in a video sent to all 32 teams

The NFL's referees department sent a video to all 32 teams to explain the reporting of the position change rule Tuesday afternoon. A source at the club provided the video to The athlete.

The video, narrated by senior vice president of coaching and development Walt Anderson, explained the rule with clips that showed two different angles of the moments leading up to the Detroit Lions' two-point conversion attempt on Saturday night. The two-point conversion, caught by left tackle Taylor Decker, appeared to give Detroit a 21-20 lead over the Dallas Cowboys with 23 seconds left. But referee Brad Allen disallowed the ball, calling it an illegal touchdown pass, and the Cowboys eventually won, 20-19.

On December 20, the NFL officiating department informed clubs via email that the practice tape sent that day for Week 15 games would be the last for the 2023 season. The weekly tapes the NFL sends to clubs throughout the season typically contain Multiple focuses, multiple teams and scenarios, but the controversy in Dallas was apparently significant enough to warrant its own coaching tape.

“As a reminder to clubs and players, an offensive player numbered 50 to 79 or 90 to 99 is permitted to line up as an eligible pass receiver to allow the defense the opportunity to match personnel to avoid deception and to ensure fairness, the player must immediately notify the referee of the change in his eligibility status who will inform the team,” Anderson said. The defense will make an announcement to the stadium before that game.”

The video opened with a clip of the seconds leading up to the Lions' first quarter game in which offensive tackle Dan Skipper was flagged as eligible. Skipper is highlighted in a yellow circle as he runs onto the field with his left arm raised and his right arm close to his chest. The video then cuts to a clip seconds before the two-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter. The spotlight is once again on Skipper in yellow as he runs onto the field looking very similar to the first quarter game, with his left arm raised and his right arm near his chest.

“It is the player's responsibility to ensure that the change in condition is clearly communicated to the referee by physically gesturing with his hands up and down in front of his chest and informing the referee of his intention to report as eligible.” Anderson said in the video.

Anderson then reminds teams that a player reported as eligible must line up in an eligible position, just as the video showed Skipper lining up in a covered position on the line, making him ineligible. A yellow arrow pointed to Penei Sewell and Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Louis. Brown, who were both on Skipper's right side at the line of scrimmage.

“Failure to do so or if it is covered up by another player will result in an illegal formation,” Anderson said.

The video increased the confusion surrounding this rule and this play. The video reminded teams that players need to be physically and verbally communicated that they are eligible. Decker said after the game that he reported verbally and league video shows he reported physically as well. The video shows Skipper physically gesturing, but he said after the game that he didn't say anything to the referee.

See also  Free Agency Chiefs: Dolphins signature defensive end Melvin Ingram, per report

Allen said after the game that Skipper was the Lions' offensive lineman declared eligible, and in this video, Anderson doubles down on that reasoning. So the black formation was illegal because Skipper was on the line.

The league's goal in sending this video is to clearly defend Allen. In the video, Anderson did not recognize Decker being declared eligible, despite the fact that one frame of the pre-shot clip clearly showed Decker making the gesture.

“I did exactly what coach told me to do,” Decker said Saturday. “I went to the referee, said ‘report’, and yes.”

“This process has been in place for many years and is intended to provide adequate notice to the defense when players line up in positions that their numbers do not allow,” Anderson said.

Required reading

(Photo: David Berding/Getty Images)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *