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The Most Universally Hated NFL Rule Could Change This Offseason

Brian Giuffra
Football bouncing out of end zone.
Football bouncing out of end zone. / Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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When Daniel Sorensen hit Rashard Higgins at the goal line (illegally, by the way) and forced Higgins to fumble the ball out of the end zone during the AFC Divisional playoffs, the United States of America became united once more, at least outside of Kansas City. The rule giving the ball to the Chiefs in that situation was bullshhh, according to the majority of America, and the NFL needed to change it immediately.

Of course, nothing can be done in-season. But it sounds like the rule giving possession to the opposing team if the ball is fumbled out of the end zone could change this offseason. At least that's what Chiefs owner Clark Hunt insinuated in an interview with Chris "Mad Dog" Russo.

"I do think the Competition Committee will look at that rule this year. A lot of times it takes a catalyst play in an important game for the Competition Committee to dig in and think about changing a rule that’s been around for a long time. And certainly that play hurt the Browns, helped the Chiefs, had an impact on the course of the game so I do think there’s a good chance it’ll be looked at. I don’t know where the Committee will come down but I can see arguments on both sides."

In this case, the play proved to be a determining factor in the outcome of the game. The Browns were trailing 16-3 when Higgins fumbled the ball at the Chiefs half-millimeter line. The Chiefs tacked on three more points on the ensuing possession and eked out a 22-17 win. If Higgins scores there, we have a whole new ballgame.

The most common idea to fix the rule is to give possession back to the offensive team at the point of the fumble. But that does penalize the defensive player for forcing a fumble. Recently, NFL rule changes have favored the offense, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see this one go in their favor as well. If that happens, it would be lauded by all of America, even Kansas City, which can always remember the rule fondly as the catalyst to another Super Bowl berth...and possibly more.

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