The rule is bad, as recently re-explained. Until it changes, however, players need to act accordingly.
Given that a fumble into and out of the end zone becomes a touchback for the defense, players who have the ball and approach the pylon should not reach the ball toward it. One false move, and the other team has it at the 20.
Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett knows about this dynamic. He told PFT by phone after Sunday’s 37-31 overtime win in Detroit that the team is well aware of the perils of potentially fumbling into and out of the end zone.
“We always talk about not being able to reach,” Lockett said. “So yeah . . . I did reach. And luckily it worked out because as you know, if it didn’t work out, then, you know, they would have probably been super upset, mad at me, all that different type of stuff, but luckily it worked out.”
He said he didn’t initially plan to reach for the pylon, “because you never know where the defender is that’s trying to chase you.” Lockett explained that, after he caught the ball and saw where the defender was, he knew he had a chance to reach for the pylon.
It was still very close. He was losing his grip on the ball. One hand came off. If it had become dislodged from the other hand before it touched the pylon, the Lions would have had the ball, first and 10 from the 20 with only a field goal needed to win the game.