A fumble in American and Canadian football occurs when a player who has possession and control of the ball loses it before being downed (tackled), scoring, or going out of bounds. By rule, it is any act other than passing, kicking, punting, or successful handing that results in loss of player possession. A fumble may be forced by a defensive player who either grabs or punches the ball or butts the ball with his helmet (a move called "tackling the ball"). A fumbled ball may be recovered and advanced by either team (except, in American football, after the two-minute warning in either half or 4th down, when the fumbling player is the only offensive player allowed to advance the ball, otherwise the ball is ruled dead at the spot of recovery if the ball bounces backwards or spotted at the point of the fumble if the ball travels forward). It is one of three events that can cause a turnover (the other two being an interception or on downs, though the latter does not count toward the team's total turnovers), where possession of the ball can change during play.

Under American rules a fumble may be confused with a muff. A muff occurs where a player drops a ball that he does not have possession of, such as while attempting to catch a lateral pass or improperly fielding a kicking play such as a punt (you cannot "fumble" a loose ball). Ball security is the ability of a player to maintain control over the football during play and thus avoid a fumble. Thus, losing possession of the ball via a fumble includes not only dropping the ball before being downed; but, also having a ball taken away, or “stripped” from the runner’s possession before being downed.

Andrew Luck fumbles at 2009 Big Game
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck fumbles the snap against California on the way to a 34–28 loss in the 2009 Big Game.
The rate of fumbles by running backs in the NFL has decreased steadily since the AFL–NFL merger.


If the ball is fumbled the defensive team may recover the ball and even advance it to their opponents' goal. The same is true for the offense, but usually when the offense recovers the ball it simply tries to down it. In American football the offense cannot advance the ball if it recovers its own fumble on fourth down, or in the last two minutes of a half, unless the ball is recovered by the fumbler (there are no such restrictions in Canadian football). However, if the offense fumbles the ball, the defense recovers and then fumbles back to the offense, they would get a first down since possession had formally changed over the course of the play even though the ball had never been blown dead. In American football, there is no separate signal to indicate a fumble recovery. If the offense recovers its own fumble, the official will indicate the recovery by a hand signal showing the next down. If the defense recovers the fumble, the official will indicate with a "first down" signal in the direction the recovering team is driving the ball. Some officials have erroneously used a "first down" signal when the offense recovers its own fumble and the recovery did not result in a first down.

This is not the same thing as when a forward pass is attempted and is not caught. In this latter case, it is simply an incomplete pass. However, if the receiver catches the ball, but then drops it after gaining control of the ball, that is considered a fumble.

Any number of fumbles can be committed during a play, including fumbles by the team originally on defense. Most famously, Dallas Cowboys defender Leon Lett fumbled during Super Bowl XXVII while celebrating during his own fumble return.

A sometimes controversial rule is usually referred to as "the ground cannot cause a fumble". If a player is tackled and loses control of the ball at or after the time he makes contact with the ground, the player is treated as down and the ball is not in play. However, in the NFL and CFL, if a ball carrier falls without an opponent contacting him, the ground can indeed cause a fumble. This is because in those leagues the ball carrier is not "down" unless an opponent first makes contact, or the runner is out of bounds. If a player fumbles in most other leagues, as soon as the knee or elbow touches the ground, the ball carrier is considered down. It is also possible for the ground to cause a fumble in college football if the ball hits the ground before any part of the ball carrier's body (other than the hand or foot) touches the ground. An example was the fumble by Arkansas quarterback Clint Stoerner vs. Tennessee in 1998.

The effects of fumbles vary when the ball goes out of bounds without being recovered:

  • A fumble going out-of-bounds between the end zones is retained by the last team with possession (in Canadian football, the last team to touch the ball). If the ball was moving backwards with regard to the recovering team, it is spotted where it went out of bounds. If the ball was moving forwards, it is spotted where the fumble occurred (the fumble itself cannot advance the ball).
  • A fumble going out-of-bounds in the endzone being attacked results in the defending team assuming possession via touchback if the offensive team forced the ball into the endzone. If the defensive team forced the ball into the endzone it is a safety for the offense.
  • A fumble going out-of-bounds in the endzone being defended is ruled a safety if the offensive team forced the ball into the endzone.
  • A fumble going out-of-bounds in the endzone being defended is ruled a touchback if the defensive team forced the ball into the endzone. The ball is turned over to the defensive team.

In all cases, a fumble recovered by an out-of-bounds player is considered an out-of-bounds fumble even if the ball never leaves the field of play.

In addition, a punted or place-kicked ball that touches any part of a player on the receiving team, whether or not the player ever gains control, is considered to be live and is treated like a fumble. Also, lateral passes that are caught by a member of the opposing team are recorded as fumbles as opposed to interceptions.

Play during fumbles

Peach Bowl fumble aftermath
Officials sort out possession after a fumble at the 2006 Chick-fil-A Bowl between Georgia and Virginia Tech.

Since footballs tend to bounce in unpredictable ways, particularly on artificial turf, attempting to recover and advance a fumbled ball is risky even for those with good manual coordination. Coaches at lower levels of the game usually therefore prefer that players, particularly those such as interior linemen who do not normally handle the ball in the course of play, simply fall on the ball. Gaining or retaining possession is more important in most situations than attempting to advance the ball and possibly score, and there have been many instances where those attempting to do so have wound up fumbling the ball back to the other team.

Recovering and advancing a fumble is also made difficult, and potentially injurious, by the effect on play. Since neither team is on offense or defense while the ball remains loose, there are no restrictions on the type of contact allowed as long as all players are making legitimate efforts to recover it. A loose ball has been described as the only situation in football where the rules are suspended.

If the ball remains loose, every player on the field will eventually gravitate towards it, increasing the chaos around it. Spectators relish the suspense. Some players, particularly offensive linemen, have a reputation for taking advantage of the situation to do things to opponents that would otherwise draw penalties, since the officials' attention is necessarily focused on the ball and away from the players trying to get to it. Most commonly, players will "pile on" opponents already down trying to recover the ball. Some NFL players also report that pokes in the eyes, pinches or other abuse is common in post-fumble pileups, conduct which has sometimes led to confrontations, fights or even brawls.

The usual aftermath of a fumble, at every level of play, is a pile of players, many still squirming diligently despite the whistle, surrounded by teammates pointing upfield (the hand signal for a first down) while the officials slowly extricate them in an effort to determine who has won possession. If two different players have hands on the ball, it is often a judgement call on the officials' part as to which team gets it. In the NFL and CFL this has often been the occasion for coaches to call for a review of the instant replay.

Fumbles recovered for touchdowns in the end zone are often the only way offensive linemen score points.

Proper fumble recovery

The most obvious way to recover a loose football would be to fall prone atop it and cradle it between both arms against the abdomen. Amateur players are seen doing this all the time, particularly when playing touch football, and it can even be seen in professional contests.

However, coaches tell players not to do this in game situations if at all possible, since not only is the ball likely to squirt loose again once other players pile on, there is also a possibility of injury from the ball being driven into the soft organs with great force.

Instead, players are taught to fall on their sides and augment their cradling with a thigh and upper body, if possible. This greatly reduces both the chance of losing the ball and the potential for injury (at least from the ball).

Fumbles cannot be recovered with any body part that does not also involve at least one of the recovering player's arms.

Coaches are also increasingly encouraging their players to use the "scoop and score" method of picking it up and attempting to return it for a touchdown.[1]

Intentional fumbling

A very rarely used trick play known as the "fake fumble" calls for the quarterback to lay the ball on the ground as he backs up after receiving the snap, so that a pulling guard can pick it up and run the ball around the end. Coaches are very leery of calling this, however, as a team must be able to execute it flawlessly in order for it to have a chance of working in a game situation. The guard must also be able to run the ball competently and protect it when being tackled, both not usually part of the skill set for the position.

The "fake fumble" is in fact a real one as far as the rules are concerned, and if the defense manages to get the ball, the coach's judgement is likely to be questioned by fans and media alike. While it is a crowd pleaser when done properly, the risk far outweighs the likely reward. For this reason it is most likely to be used in informal touch football games. It was sometimes used in the college game before the NCAA banned it in 1992. It has almost never been used in the NFL or any other professional league.

The best-known fake fumble is probably the Fumblerooski play in the 1984 Orange Bowl (see below).

Fumbling forward, as the Holy Roller play (see below) demonstrated, once was a viable offensive tactic in desperate situations, but the rules have been changed to discourage that.

Use in place of opening coin toss

The XFL, a competing pro league which played its sole season in 2001, used a fumble recovery instead of a coin toss to decide which team would get to choose whether to kick off or receive at the opening of the game and before overtime. A player from each team would sprint, alongside the other, toward a loose ball at the middle of the field, and whoever was able to gain possession won the right for their team to decide.

The idea was that such a key element of the game would be decided by a test of playing skill, not chance. Because of a high rate of injury in these events, the idea never caught on in any other level of football, and the coin toss remains the standard.

Famous fumbles

Fumbles have sometimes played a role in deciding games. Some of these have been so unique as to not only earn their own distinctive sobriquets, but to change the way the game has been played afterwards.

College football


  • The Holy Roller: The Oakland Raiders won a September 10, 1978, contest against divisional rivals the San Diego Chargers through another intentional fumble. With ten seconds left, down 20-14, quarterback Ken Stabler fumbled the ball forward to avoid being sacked at the Chargers' 15-yard line. Two other players, Pete Banaszak and Dave Casper, attempted to recover it but batted it forward when they could not. Finally it reached the end zone, where Casper fell on it for the tying touchdown, which cleared the way for the extra point that gave the Raiders the win. Officials decided to allow the touchdown on the grounds that the fumbles did not appear to be intentional and thus could not be considered forward passes, but Stabler freely admitted his was. Chargers fans have referred to the play as the Immaculate Deception ever since, and after the 1978 season, the NFL instituted the current rule that a forward fumble in the last two minutes of play (or on fourth down) can only be advanced, if recovered by the fumbling team, by the player who originally fumbled.
  • The Miracle at the Meadowlands: Later that season, on November 19, 1978 the New York Giants were closing out an apparent 17-12 victory over the visiting Philadelphia Eagles. With 31 seconds left to play, they had the ball on third down. The Eagles had no timeouts left. All the Giants had to do was snap the ball one more time, and since they had knelt with the ball on the play before, it was expected they would do it and the game would be over. However, the kneel-down play wasn't universally accepted as an honorable way to win a game at the time, and Giants' offensive coordinator Bob Gibson ordered quarterback Joe Pisarcik (with whom he had been having a running feud over play-calling authority) to hand the ball off to fullback Larry Csonka for one more run up the middle to end the game. Csonka was reluctant to take the ball, and instead Pisarcik fumbled the handoff, allowing Eagles' cornerback Herman Edwards to return it for the winning touchdown. The Fumble, as outraged Giants' fans still call it, spurred the Eagles to the playoffs that season and precipitated a complete overhaul of the Giants' coaching and management staff, eventually reversing years of decline. Gibson was fired the next day. The following week, kneeling with the ball when possible to run out the clock and preserve a victory became standard operating procedure in the NFL.
  • The Fumble: The dubious honor of having committed "The" fumble goes to Earnest Byner of the Cleveland Browns. On January 17, 1988, he lost the ball just short of the Denver Broncos' goal line with 65 seconds left in the AFC championship game. He appeared to be on his way to a certain touchdown until Jeremiah Castille barely managed to reach out and jar the ball loose from his grip. The touchdown-that-wasn't would have tied the game (assuming a made extra point) and kept alive the Browns' Super Bowl hopes. Instead, the Broncos spotted them a safety and the game ended in a 38-33 Broncos victory. The play has entered Cleveland sports lore as one of several instances in which the city's teams were frustrated at the last minute on the way to possible future glory.
  • Super Bowl XXVII: Leon Lett's loss of the ball on the way to an apparent touchdown late in the game has gone down in football history as one of the most preventable fumbles. The Dallas Cowboys defensive end had recovered one of the Bills' record-setting five lost fumbles in late in the game and had slowed down as he approached the goal line, waving his arms out to his side in celebration. Buffalo Bills wide receiver Don Beebe, who had sprinted down the field unseen by Lett, caught up inside the 5 yard line and was able to knock the ball loose from behind. The ball subsequently rolled out of the end zone for a touchback, giving the ball back to the Bills. Beebe's team by that point had no chance to win, but Lett's premature showboating prevented the Cowboys from setting a new record for most points scored by one team in a Super Bowl. Despite an otherwise commendable career, that play and Lett's later unnecessary attempt to recover a blocked field goal, which cost Dallas the next season's Thanksgiving Day game, have led to him being ill-remembered by football fans.
  • Romo's fumbled hold: In the 2006–07 NFL playoffs Wild Card round versus the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys quarterback and kick holder Tony Romo dropped the ball as kicker Martín Gramática was set to kick a go-ahead 19-yard field goal. Romo recovered his fumble and attempted to run the ball in for a touchdown or a first down, but was tackled inches short of the first down marker by Jordan Babineaux, allowing the Seahawks to run the clock out and win the game. Since this game, a common stereotype has been used to paint Romo as a "choker" in big moments by detractors with this particular incident as the most common example.
  • The butt fumble: On November 22, 2012, during the primetime Thanksgiving Day game between the New York Jets and New England Patriots, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez slipped and collided with the backside of his teammate Brandon Moore and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the Patriots' Steve Gregory and returned for a touchdown. Adding insult to injury, the Jets' Joe McKnight fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which Julian Edelman recovered for another Patriots touchdown.

Professional Canadian football

In statistics

Game box scores commonly record how many fumbles a team made and how many it recovered. A fumble is credited to the last player who handled it from the possessing team, regardless of whether it may have been his fault or not.





  • Most fumbles, career: 166, Brett Favre, 1992–2010
  • Most fumbles, season: 23; Kerry Collins, 2001 and Daunte Culpepper, 2002.
  • Most fumbles, game: 7, Len Dawson, Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers, November 15, 1964.
  • Most fumbles recovered, career: 56, Warren Moon.
  • Most fumbles recovered, season: 12, David Carr, 2002.
  • Most fumbles recovered, game: 4; Otto Graham, Cleveland Browns vs. New York Giants, October 25, 1953; Sam Etcheverry, St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Giants, September 17, 1961; Roman Gabriel, Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers, October 12, 1969; Joe Ferguson, Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins, September 18, 1977; Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Oakland Raiders, November 30, 1986 (OT).
  • Most own fumbles recovered, career: 56, Warren Moon.
  • Most own fumbles recovered, season: 12, David Carr, 2002.
  • Most own fumbles recovered, game: 4, holders the same as most fumbles recovered, game, above.
  • Most opponents' fumbles recovered, career: 29, Jim Marshall
  • Most opponents' fumbles recovered, season: 9, Don Hultz, 1963.
  • Most opponents' fumbles recovered, game: 3, held by 15 different players, most recently Brian Young, St. Louis Rams vs. Baltimore Ravens, November 9, 2003.
  • Longest fumble return: 104 yards, Jack Tatum, Oakland Raiders vs. Green Bay Packers, September 24, 1972; Aeneas Williams, Arizona Cardinals vs. Washington Redskins, November 5, 2000.
  • Most fumble recoveries or returns for touchdowns, career: 5, Jessie Tuggle.
  • Most fumble recoveries or returns for touchdowns, season: 2, over 30 players, most recently Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Leonard Little, St. Louis Rams, both in 2004.
  • Most own fumbles recovered or advanced for touchdowns, career: 2; Ken Kavanaugh, Mike Ditka, Gail Cogdill, Ahmad Rashād, Jim Mitchell, Drew Pearson, Del Rodgers, Alan Richard, and Kevin Curtis.
  • Most own fumbles recovered or advanced for touchdowns, season: 2; Rashad, 1974, Rodgers, 1982, and Curtis, 2007.
  • Most opponents' fumbles returned or recovered for touchdowns, career: 5, Tuggle.
  • Most opponents' fumbles returned or recovered for touchdowns, season: 2, over 30 players as described above ending with Barber and Little.
  • Most opponents' fumbles returned or recovered for touchdowns, game: Fred "Dippy" Evans, Chicago Bears vs. Washington Redskins, November 28, 1948
  • Least Fumbles, career (400+ touches): BenJarvis Green-Ellis, never fumbled, 562 touches (through 2011 NFL season)[2]
  • Most consecutive touches without a fumble:
    • 803 (Barry Sanders, Dec. 6, 1992-Sept. 17, 1995)[3]
    • 712 (LaDainian Tomlinson, longest streak since 1991)[2]
      • 870 (Steven Jackson, Rams/Falcons/Patriots RB-November 13, 2011 fumble against Browns was last fumble of career) [4]


  • Most fumbles: 14, Washington Redskins (8) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (6), November 14, 1937; Chicago Bears (7) vs. Cleveland Browns (7), November 24, 1940; St. Louis Cardinals (8) vs. New York Giants (6), September 17, 1961; Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Oilers, October 12, 1969.
  • Most fumble recoveries for touchdowns: 3; Detroit Lions (2) vs. Minnesota Vikings (1), December 9, 1962 (2 own, 1 opponents'); Green Bay Packers (2) vs. Dallas Cowboys (1), November 29, 1964 (all opponents'); Oakland Raiders (2) vs. Buffalo Bills (1), December 24, 1967 (all opponents'); Oakland Raiders (2) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (1), September 24, 1995 (all opponents'); Tennessee Titans (2) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (1), January 2, 2000 (all opponents').
  • Most opponents' fumbles recovered for touchdowns: 3 (see last four above).

See also

Knock-on (disambiguation)


  1. ^ Easterbrook, Gregg, October 11, 2005, Tuesday Morning Quarterback, NFL.com
  2. ^ a b [Tom Perrotta], January 18, 2012, Thou Shalt Never Fumble, The Wall Street Journal Online
  3. ^ "SURE-HANDED SANDERS FUMBLES, LIONS LOSE". deseretnews.com. September 18, 1995. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  4. ^ "Steven Jackson". NFL.com. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
1923 Chicago Bears season

The 1923 Chicago Bears season was their fourth regular season completed in the National Football League. The club posted a 9–2–1 record under head coach/player George Halas earning them a second-place finish in the team standings earning, the third time in the last four years. As was normal for those days, the Bears played a few games on the road at the beginning of the season and then finished the season with a 9-game homestand. The Bears started very slow, losing 2 of their first 4 games and scoring only 6 points during those games (their two wins were both won 3–0). After losing 6–0 to eventual champion Canton Bulldogs in week 4, the Bears went undefeated after that. Just like in 1922, the Sternaman brothers starred, scoring 5 touchdowns, 6 field goals, and 8 PATs between the two of them. Johnny Bryan emerged as a scoring threat as well, running for 4 scores and passing for another. Most notably, in week 6's game against the Oorang Indians, George Halas set an NFL record with a 98-yard fumble return. Jack Tatum broke it with a 104-yard Fumble Return against the Green Bay Packers in 1972 and Aeneas Williams tied that feat with a 104-yard fumble return against the Redskins in 2000.

Adam Archuleta

Adam Jason Archuleta (born November 27, 1977) is a former professional American football safety who played in the National Football League (NFL) for seven seasons. He played college football at Arizona State, and was selected in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams with the 20th overall pick.

After five seasons with the Rams, Archuleta played a season each for the Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears, and was in camp with the Oakland Raiders in 2008.

Butt fumble

The butt fumble was a notable American football play from a National Football League (NFL) game played on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2012, between the New York Jets and New England Patriots.

In front of the home crowd of 79,000 at MetLife Stadium and a primetime television audience of 20 million, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez collided with the rear end of his teammate Brandon Moore and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the Patriots' Steve Gregory and returned for a touchdown. The play was the centerpiece of a disastrous sequence in the second quarter, as the Jets lost three fumbles and the Patriots scored three touchdowns—one each on offense, defense, and special teams—all in the span of 52 seconds of game time; in that quarter, the Jets held the ball for over 12 minutes (out of 15), but were outscored 35–3. The game and the so-called "butt fumble" in particular are remembered as the low point of the Jets' 2012 season. The butt fumble was ranked as the most embarrassing moment in Jets history by ESPN.

C. J. Mosley (linebacker)

Clint Mosley Jr. (born June 19, 1992) is an American football linebacker for the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Alabama, and was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Charles Woodson

Charles Cameron Woodson (born October 7, 1976) is a former American football player. He played college football for Michigan, where he led the Wolverines to a share of the national championship in 1997. Woodson, a "two-way player" who played both offense and defense, won the Heisman Trophy in the same year. To date, he is the only primarily defensive player to win the Heisman, and he is the most recent player to win the Heisman who was not either a running back or quarterback. Woodson went on to accomplish a storied career professionally with one of the most decorated professional football resumes of all time, considered by many of his peers to be one of the greatest defensive players to have ever played.

Woodson was drafted by the Oakland Raiders fourth overall in the 1998 NFL Draft. In his first season with Oakland, Woodson was selected as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press. He was named to the Pro Bowl and earned All-Pro recognition three consecutive times (1999–2001). In a 2002 AFC playoff match against the New England Patriots, Woodson seemed to have clinched the game by forcing a fumble by sacking quarterback (and former Michigan teammate) Tom Brady, but the ruling was overturned. Woodson later battled several nagging injuries in consecutive seasons in Oakland, leading to his departure after the 2005 NFL season via free agency.On April 26, 2006, Woodson signed a seven-year, $52 million contract with the Green Bay Packers. He would later win Super Bowl XLV with the team over the Pittsburgh Steelers. In his first season in Green Bay, Woodson was the team's punt returner and led the National Football Conference with eight interceptions, surpassing his previous career high of five, in his rookie year. In his second season in Green Bay, the injury problems returned and Woodson was forced to sit out two games. He was the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the 2009 NFL season. He returned to the Raiders in 2013, playing three more seasons and once more being voted to the Pro Bowl. Woodson is one of the few players in NFL history to play in a Pro Bowl in three different decades (1990s, 2000s, 2010s). He is currently tied for fifth on the all time interceptions list with 65, and is tied with Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper for most career defensive touchdowns with 13. He also is second all time in interceptions returned for touchdowns, with 11.

After he retired in 2015, he signed with ESPN in 2016.

DeAngelo Hall

DeAngelo Eugene Hall (born November 19, 1983) is a former American football defensive back who played 14 seasons in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for Virginia Tech and was drafted with the eighth overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. A cornerback for the majority of his playing career, he transitioned to free safety towards the end of his tenure with the Washington Redskins. Hall also played half a season for the Oakland Raiders.

Hall was invited to three Pro Bowls in his career: two with the Falcons and one with the Redskins. He holds the NFL record for career fumble return yards, with 328, and his five career fumble return touchdowns is second all time. In 2010, he tied an NFL record by recording four interceptions in a game against the Chicago Bears. Following his playing career, he began working as an analyst for NBC Sports Washington and Fox Sports 1.

Grant Wistrom

Grant Alden Wistrom (born July 3, 1976) is a former American college and professional football player who was a defensive end in the National Football League (NFL) for nine seasons. Wistrom played college football for the University of Nebraska and was a two-time All-American. He was drafted in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft, and played professionally for the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks of the NFL.

Guard (American and Canadian football)

In American and Canadian football, a guard (G) is a player who lines up between the center and the tackles on the offensive line of a football team on the line of scrimmage used primarily for blocking. Right guards (RG) is the term for the guards on the right of the offensive line, while left guards (LG) are on the left side. Guards are to the right or left of the center.

The guard's job is to protect the quarterback from the incoming linemen during pass plays, as well as creating openings (holes) for the running backs to head through. Guards are automatically considered ineligible receivers, so they cannot intentionally touch a forward pass, unless it is to recover a fumble or is first touched by a defender or eligible receiver.

Holy Roller (American football)

In American football, "the Holy Roller" (also known as The Immaculate Deception by San Diego Chargers fans) was a controversial game-winning play by the Oakland Raiders against the San Diego Chargers on September 10, 1978, at San Diego Stadium (now SDCCU Stadium) in San Diego, California. It was officially ruled as a forward fumble that was recovered by Raiders tight end Dave Casper in the end zone for a touchdown, ultimately giving Oakland the 21–20 win. However, there have been differing interpretations of how this play should have actually been ruled, and it has remained a controversial play for fans of both teams involved. The NFL amended its rules after the 1978 season in order to prevent a recurrence of the play.

Had the Chargers won this game, and had all other games that season remained with the same outcome, they would have made the playoffs taking the fifth seed over the Houston Oilers, by virtue of a tiebreaker. Both the Chargers and Oilers would have finished with a 10-6 record, but the Chargers' final game of the season was a victory over the Oilers, so the Chargers would have won the tiebreaker on a head-to-head matchup and clinched the fifth seed in the postseason. The final Houston-San Diego game therefore would have had direct playoff consequence, with the winner advancing to the playoffs and the loser being eliminated.

Jason Taylor (American football)

Jason Paul Taylor (born September 1, 1974) is a former American football defensive end and outside linebacker who spent the majority of his career with the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League (NFL). Over the course of his 15-year career, Taylor played for the Dolphins on three separate occasions (1997–2007, 2009 and 2011), and also played a season each for the Washington Redskins (2008) and New York Jets (2010). Taylor has the fourth most forced fumbles of all time with 47, and is tied for the NFL record for fumble recoveries (with Jim Marshall) with 29. He is seventh on the all-time career sack list with 139.5 sacks and is the all-time leader in fumble return touchdowns with six, and interceptions returned for touchdowns by a defensive lineman with three, while his 246 fumble return yards are the fourth-highest total in NFL history. With nine career touchdowns scored, he is also the all-time leader in that category for defensive linemen. He officially announced his retirement on December 28, 2011.

Taylor was a four-year letterman and three-year starter for the Akron Zips of the University of Akron before being drafted in the third round, thirteenth pick (73rd overall), in the 1997 NFL Draft by Miami.

A six-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time first- or second-team All-Pro, Taylor was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2006, was named the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2007, and was selected to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017, his first year of eligibility.

Julius Peppers

Julius Frazier Peppers (born January 18, 1980) is a former American football defensive end. He played college football at North Carolina, where he was recognized as a unanimous All-American, and was drafted by the Carolina Panthers second overall in the 2002 NFL Draft, and also played for the Chicago Bears from 2010 through 2013 and the Green Bay Packers from 2014 to 2016.

Peppers was named to the Pro Bowl nine times, and both the first and second All-Pro teams three times each. In his rookie season, he was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2002, where he recorded 12 sacks, five forced fumbles, and an interception, all while playing in only 12 games. He was also named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.

Pete Brock (American football)

Peter Anthony Brock (born July 14, 1954, Portland, Oregon) was a center and guard who played twelve professional seasons with the National Football League's New England Patriots. Brock attended the University of Colorado. His younger brother Stan played with the Colorado Buffaloes and in the NFL. Pete played against Stan in the Patriots' 38-27 win over the Saints at the Superdome on December 21, 1980.He played left tackle, long snapper, tight end and wing back during the same series of downs in the Patriots' 27-7 victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on 10-14-79. He was awarded the game ball as his tore his cartilage in his knee early in the game but played the entire game in the Patriots 17-6 win over the Miami Dolphins at Sullivan Stadium on 11-13-83. Pete was the starting center 78 times, starting left guard 3 times, starting left tackle 6 times and the starting right guard once in the 154 regular season games that he played for the New England Patriots. He wore #58.He recovered a fumble by Doug Beaudoin in the Patriots' 48-17 rout of the Oakland Raiders at Schaefer Stadium on 10-03-76. Pete recovered a fumble by Horace Ivory in the Patriots' 23-14 victory over the Denver Broncos at Schaefer on 09-29-80. He pounced on a fumble by Steve Grogan in their 29-28 loss to the Baltimore Colts at Schaefer on 09-06-81. Pete fell on a fumble by Matt Cavanaugh in their 10-7 loss to the Browns at Cleveland Stadium on 11-21-82. Pete recovered a fumble by Steve Grogan in their 31-24 loss to the New York Jets at Sullivan Stadium on 10-12-86.Brock Brock won the Ed Block Courage Award in 1985. He currently works as the President of the New England Patriots Alumni and announces college football games. He has his own segment called "Brock's Breakdown" as part of the pre-game show on 98.5 FM, the Sports Hub in Boston; in 2001 he also replaced Gino Cappelletti as color analyst on the Patriots' radio network for the first eight games of that season because of illness to Cappelletti.

Ray Lewis

Raymond Anthony Lewis Jr. (born May 15, 1975) is a former American football linebacker who played all of his 17-year professional career for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League (NFL). He previously played college football for the University of Miami, and earned All-America honors. Lewis was drafted by the Ravens in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft, and upon his retirement following the 2012 season, was the last remaining active player from the team's inaugural season.

Lewis played middle linebacker his entire career, and is considered to be one of the greatest ever to play the position. He was a 13-time Pro Bowler, a 10-time All-Pro, and one of the few players in NFL history to play in a Pro Bowl in three different decades (1990s, 2000s, and 2010s). He is also considered to be the greatest Baltimore Raven of all-time.Lewis pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in connection with the stabbing deaths of two men in 2000. The following season, he won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and led the Ravens' record-setting defense to victory in Super Bowl XXXV. Lewis also became the second linebacker to win the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award, and the first to win the award on the winning Super Bowl team. Lewis won his second Defensive Player of the Year award in 2003, becoming the sixth player to win the award multiple times. After a triceps tear that sidelined him for most of the 2012–13 season, Lewis returned for the Ravens' playoff run and earned his second Super Bowl victory in his final NFL game. On February 3, 2018, the fifth anniversary of his final game, Lewis was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Sheldon Richardson

Sheldon Adam Richardson (born November 29, 1990) is an American football defensive tackle for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Missouri, and was drafted by the New York Jets in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Richardson has also played for the Seattle Seahawks, and Minnesota Vikings.

Terrell Suggs

Terrell Raymonn Suggs (born October 11, 1982), nicknamed "T-Sizzle," is an American football outside linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Arizona State, and was recognized as a unanimous All-American. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens tenth overall in the 2003 NFL Draft, and is the franchise's all-time leader in sacks.Suggs is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, a two time All-Pro, was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2011, and was part of the Ravens team that won Super Bowl XLVII, beating the San Francisco 49ers. As of the conclusion of the 2018 NFL season, Suggs is tied for 13th all-time in career sacks in NFL history. As of 2019, he is one of only two active players from the 2003 Draft remaining, the other being Jason Witten.

The Fumble

In American football, The Fumble was a play in the 1987 AFC Championship Game between the Browns and Broncos on January 17, 1988 at Mile High Stadium. With 1:12 left in the game, Browns running back Earnest Byner fumbled on the Broncos 1 yard line while trying to score a touchdown to pull within one point. The Broncos went on to win 38–33 after taking an intentional safety.

Tuck Rule Game

The 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders, also known as the Snow Bowl and the Tuck Rule Game, took place on January 19, 2002, at Foxboro Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the former home stadium of the Patriots. This was also the final game ever played at Foxboro Stadium, and was played under a heavy snowfall. The Patriots moved to Gillette Stadium the following season. To Raiders fans it is known as The New England Snow Job.The name Tuck Rule Game originates from the controversial game-changing play. In the play, Raiders' cornerback Charles Woodson sacked Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady, which in turn, initially appeared to cause a fumble that was eventually recovered by Raiders' linebacker Greg Biekert, and, if it was a fumble, would have almost certainly sealed the game for Oakland. Officials reviewed the play, and eventually determined that even though Brady had seemingly halted his passing motion and was attempting to "tuck" the ball back into his body, it was an incomplete pass and not a fumble under the then-effective NFL rules. As a result, the original call was overturned, and the ball was given back to the Patriots, who subsequently moved the ball into field goal range.

With under a minute remaining in regulation, Patriots' placekicker Adam Vinatieri kicked a 45-yard field goal to tie the game at 13, which sent the game into overtime. In the subsequent overtime, Vinatieri kicked a 23-yard field goal to win the game for the Patriots. New England went on to win Super Bowl XXXVI, beginning a run of championships with Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, appearing in nine and winning six to date.

Tuck rule (American football)

The tuck rule was a controversial rule in American football used by the National Football League from 1999 until 2013. It stated:

NFL Rule 3, Section 22, Article 2, Note 2. When [an offensive] player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body. Also, if the player has tucked the ball into his body and then loses possession, it is a fumble.

If the quarterback drops or loses the football while he is bringing the ball forward in a passing motion, and the ball touches the ground, it is considered an incomplete pass. If the quarterback drops or loses the football at any other time, it is considered a fumble, as if any other player had dropped it.

It is referred to as the tuck rule because the ball leaving the quarterback's hands is considered a forward pass even if the quarterback intends not to pass the ball, but instead continues the forward motion to tuck the ball back into his body. Only once the forward motion of the arm is completed, and the ball tucked into the quarterback's body, would a subsequent loss of possession be considered a fumble.

Mike Pereira, the former director of officiating of the NFL, noted that the design of the rule avoids the question of the quarterback's intent, except that the referee still must judge whether the initial forward movement of the arm was "intentional".

Tyrann Mathieu

Tyrann Devine Mathieu (; born May 13, 1992) is an American football safety for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for Louisiana State University (LSU). In college he developed a reputation for causing turnovers, setting a Southeastern Conference (SEC) record with 11 career forced fumbles and earning the nickname "Honey Badger". In his sophomore season, he was recognized as a consensus All-American, won the Chuck Bednarik Award as the best defensive player in college football, and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Mathieu was dismissed from the LSU football program after that season due to a violation of team rules.

After spending a year out of football in 2012, he was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, reuniting him in the defensive backfield with former college teammate Patrick Peterson. As a rookie he was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team. In 2015, he was invited to the Pro Bowl and earned first-team All-Pro honors. He has also played for the Houston Texans.

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