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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Did Victor Cruz Fumble Against Cardinals?

The Giants beat the Cardinals Sunday 31-27 after capitalizing on a controversial ruling by the referees. Taking over the ball down 27-24 with 3:10 left in the game, Eli Manning threw a pass to Victor Cruz for a gain of 19. Cruz saw several Cardinals defenders in front of him and decided to go down. He wasn’t touched, meaning he could have gotten up and kept running. Cruz went down, gave up the football, and the Cardinals jumped on it. It appeared to be an absentminded fumble by Cruz, but the referees bailed him out.

The referees ruled that Cruz voluntarily gave himself up, thereby negating the fumble. Their ruling also prevented Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt from challenging the play. NFL.com has video of the play for you to take a look. That sure looked like a fumble to me because the play was not dead. But here’s what the rule book has to say about dead balls:

NFL Rule 7, Section 2, Article 1

An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended …

(D) when a runner declares himself down by sliding feet first on the ground. The ball is dead the instant the runner touches the ground with anything other than his hands or his feet.

(E) when a runner is out of bounds, or declares himself down by falling to the ground, or kneeling, and making no effort to advance.

Cruz went to the ground, but I don’t believe you can definitely say he was not going to make an effort to advance the ball. In that sense, I think he fumbled the ball and the Cardinals should have taken over possession. I’m not alone; even Eli Manning thought Cruz lost the ball.

“We got a break on that one I think,” Eli Manning said. “I thought it was going to get ruled a fumble and I saw it pretty clear. I don’t know what the call was or why.”

Current NFL VP of Officiating, Carl Johnson, agreed with the call. Former VP of Officiating and current FOX analyst, Mike Pereira, disagreed with the call.

Now you know the rule behind the decision. The question is: Was the right call made?

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