Strange Rule Inconsistencies…

Let me start by saying I may be totally off on this, and a rule or process may well supersede my complaint, but figured I’d ask….

Cephus was running down the left sideline late in the game, and he was clearly ridden out of bounds for about 3 yards with the defender all over him. He made a gorgeous grab, got both feet in and the analysts starts droning on about all the “hats on the field…”. Yes Cephus was out of bounds, yes he was first to touch.

A) he was clearly shoved and ridden out.

B) he re-established himself clearly in bounds before touching the ball.

C) got both feet in

My annoyance stems from…. If the ball wasn’t in the air yet (it wasn’t) and it’s beyond 5 yards (it was) then how can a defender even touch, let alone nudge a guy out of bounds and this force a penalty on the victim?

If ball was in the air, then it has to be PI if defender shoves guy out of bounds.

Since we are typically the team on the shitty end of calls, having rules in place that make zero sense to start with make it even tougher.

The lack of times either illegal contact or PI is called is odd. Then you factor in catchable.


I have no means of reviewing it, but I noticed it too. Didn’t see it enough to know how flagrant it was/wasn’t. I see this too, man.

That’s a great point! If he was shoved out after the first 5 yards, how is that not pass interference? Didn’t think of that and very good observation on that rule


There’s “enforcement of rules,” and then there’s “enforcement of rules vs Lions.”
Most fail to recognize these are two separate rule books


One thing I am hoping with our new coaching staff is with so many respected former players on our sideline we’ll get a little more street cred as the kids say (do they still say that?) and they’ll pick up on some of that BS and be listened to and respected more. Or their complaints will be heard. Overall we get a fair shake as opposed to past years/decades/half centuries.

Aside from that call I didn’t notice too many egregious calls against the Lions in game 1… but it was only game 1.

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I think they can. time will tell, for sure.

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Yes. Noticed this and I believe it was another “error” against the Lions.

Like you say though, if it isn’t in error then they need to fix the rule. Because the ball was not in the air, like you say, I suppose there can be no PI. Doesn’t seem like the rule book should allow the defender to do that, and I thought the WR was allowed to establish himself back in the field of play in this scenario.

I will try to find the rule. Anyone know?

So here are the rules from the 2021 NFL rule book. Basically this seems to come down to an assessment of whether the defender initiated contact with a receiver who was trying to evade him. A defender may use his hands or arms only to defend or protect himself against impending contact by a receiver. See article 3 below. So if the defender is ahead of a receiver I suppose they can effectively “ride” a receiver out of bounds by simply getting in the right position and slowing down. The receiver must try to evade the defender. Under this same scenario the defender could use his hands or arms to protect himself from contact initiated by the receiver. I would need to look at the play again to see if the defender initiated illegal contact by this definition.

Also, here is the rule book link: 2021 NFL Rulebook | NFL Football Operations

  1. An eligible receiver who has been out of bounds prior to or during a pass, even if he has re-established himself inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands.
    Exception: If an eligible receiver is forced out of bounds by a foul by a defender, including illegal contact, defensive holding, or defensive pass interference, provided he attempts to return inbounds immediately, he becomes eligible to legally touch the pass (without prior touching by another eligible receiver or defender) as soon as he re-establishes himself inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands. See Article 8, Note 3.
**Article 8 Note 3
  1. If a player touches the ball after having been out of bounds, but prior to re-establishing himself inbounds with both feet or any part of his body other than his hands, the pass is incomplete, and there is no penalty for illegal touching.



Beyond the five-yard zone, if the player who receives the snap remains in the pocket with the ball, a defender cannot initiate contact with a receiver who is attempting to evade him. A defender may use his hands or arms only to defend or protect himself against impending contact caused by a receiver.

Note: If a defender contacts a receiver within the five-yard zone and maintains contact with him, he must release the receiver as they exit the five-yard zone. If the defender maintains contact beyond five yards, it is illegal contact.


Beyond the five-yard zone, incidental contact may exist between receiver and defender.

Penalty: For illegal contact by the defense: Loss of five yards and automatic first down.

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Does anyone have a link to the play? I’d be curious to see

I can’t find it, but it was clear and blatant with an official very nearby. The push was so obvious that I was screaming for a flag before he even made the catch. When they mentioned the hats being on the field I lost it.

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Where’s Sandman’s slowlights when you need them?!


I just saw the same thing happen in one of the games yesterday (Eagles vs 49ers). The defender rode Jaelen Reagor out of bounds and Reagor caught a TD pass. The refs huddled and called it illegal touching…TD called back. Instead of a TD they ended up getting a field goal blocked on that drive.

The way the 49ers defender just kind of gave up on the play at the moment he thought Reagor went out of bounds its pretty clear its a technique they spend alot of time on and expect the refs to make the call on. What sucks is we can’t depend on the refs ourselves, to be able to do it like that. The way the Packers are trained they will wait to feel the little push by the 49ers defender and then just flop like an NBA player…and probably get the call.

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HATE it.
Turining NFL into NBA

Campbell is a bone thugga

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It’s as if you never heard of the Calvin Johnson rule.

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Did they say during the telecast why he couldn’t re-establish as the rule apparently says he should be able to, since he was forced out and (presumably) came right back inbounds?

The “re-establish” parts of the rule make it confusing, particularly when announcers try to give their take on it without fully understanding what they are talking about or how the rules are stitched together and how its enforced. Once a receiver is out of bounds, they can not be the first person to touch the ball. That part stands on its own from an offensive perpective. The re-establishment stuff has more to do with a player that isn’t the first to touch the ball. A tipped ball or a ball that goes thru the defenders hands, etc. That’s for the OFFENSE. More below…

The rules for this are written poorly even though it seems like a simple thing to put in plain language. For instance the NFL wanted to preserve the defenses ability to cause a fumble or get an interception even if an illegal touch happened. So when a receiver runs out of bounds, re-establishes and makes a catch…its considered a catch AND a penalty at the same time. But now the defense gets to decide what happens next. If the ball skipped off the receivers hands and was picked off by the defense…or they caused a fumble…they would decline the penalty and keep the ball. In other circumstances they would just accept the penalty and make it a non-catch. If that makes sense. But in no case would it be considered a catch that is not also a penalty, short of a totally different calculation with pass interference taking place.


To directly answer the question about whether it was discussed during the game, the answer is no. Sadly since it is the Lions they didn’t even look if they got the call right.

Having said that if you look at the rule I posted in the above string, the defender can get position and the WR needs to try to evade, BUT the defender can only use their hands or arms to DEFEND themselves and not to push the WR out of bounds. If the defender pushes the receiver out then the WR can come back in the field of play and catch the ball BUT the ref needs to call the illegal contact.

You can “push” a receiver out of bounds as long as you are “stacking” him. That was definitely the case in the 49ers vs Eagles game. He stacked him pretty good and eventually got him to step out of bounds. The point where the receiver goes out of bounds is where I think Packers receivers are taught different. While getting stacked…which is considered illegal…they would just fall down and act like the defender was doing something illegal. And they’d probably get the call.