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Down by contact

January 17, 2012 - Jim Anderson
The Packers caught a break in Sunday’s playoff game against the Giants when when receiver Greg Jennings was ruled “down by contact” before losing a fumble.

The play occurred on the Giants’ 32-yard line late in the first quarter, with the Packers trailing 10-3. Referee Bill Leavy ruled that Jennings’ calf was down before the ball came out.

It hardly seems to matter now — the Packers having lost 37-20 — but Giants coach Tom Coughlin is still making an issue of it.

The Fox TV broadcasters, too, concluded that the Giants were “robbed” of a crucial recovery.

But here’s what the NFL had to say, in an email from league spokesman Greg Aiello, as reported in the New York Post:

“The ruling on the field was that Jennings was down by contact prior to the ball being fumbled. The Giants challenged the call. Rule 7, Section 2, Article 1 of the NFL Rule Book (page 35) states: ‘An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended: (a) when a runner is contacted by a defensive player and touches the ground with any part of his body other than his hands or feet. The ball is dead the instant the runner touches the ground.’

“So by rule, if Jennings’ calf was on the ground prior to the ball coming loose, he is down by contact. Contrary to what was suggested during the game, there is no need for the runner’s knee to be on the ground.

“Referee Bill Leavy conducted the instant replay video review and determined that there was no indisputable visual evidence to warrant reversing the on-field ruling of down by contact. As a result, the ruling on the field stood.’’

So there. Small consolation to Packers fans, but the NFL (more or less) stands by the call.

As for the three Packers fumbles that did count ...

They’re still swirling in the drain of a 15-2 season.



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