BY Art Thiel 05:56PM 10/06/2015

NFL’s batted ball rule: Few knew, including refs?

Coaches and players, along with ESPN, drew a blank on the controversial batted ball by K.J. Wright following the late-game fumble that saved the Seahawks’ victory. Refs too.

Seahawks backup RB Fred Jackson may have a high ankle sprain. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

If you’re a relative novice as a football fan, and you didn’t understand the confusion over the Seahawks’ last defensive play Monday (video) that saved a victory, don’t be ashamed. In separate interviews Tuesday, Pete Carroll and a predecessor as Seahawks coach, Mike Holmgren, didn’t understand it either.

Nor, Holmgren claimed, did back judge Gregory Wilson, who started to pull the penalty flag from his pocket, then stopped.

“He didn’t know the rule,” Holmgren told Sports Radio 950 KJR. Over on ESPN 710, Pete Carroll offered a similar shrug.

“I didn’t know that rule either,” he said. “I would have done the exact same thing (that LB K.J. Wright did). Never seen it come up. Don’t know how anybody would have known that one.”

Carroll said post-game he knew that a loose ball in the field can’t be batted forward, and said he coaches players “it’s better to knock the ball out of bounds” if a player is unsure whether he can recover it cleanly when it’s Seattle’s possession.

But a loose ball in the zone, by rule, can’t be batted in any direction. Wright would have been in the clear had he made an effort to grab the ball and it bounced away. But Wright admitted the obvious to all who watched — he deliberately knocked it out.

“He made a smart football play to help the ball go out of bounds, thinking we would maintain control,” Carroll said.

Even ESPN missed the uncalled call. The network focused all of its game-ending attention on Chancellor’s remarkable strip of Johnson, neglecting to mention Wright’s unpunished action.

We all missed it live,” ESPN producer Jay Rothman wrote to Pro Football Talk. “Clearly, had we caught it, we would have extended the looks of all angles. And had we done so, the booth would have clearly seen the illegal tip. Having said all of that, it would not have determined the outcome of the game, as currently an illegal tip is not reviewable.”

Carroll didn’t know about the controversy until well after the game ended. Nor did Joe Caldwell, the Lions coach who mostly shrugged off the misfortune Tuesday:

Carroll was disappointed that all the post-game attention on the non-call took away from the appreciation of Chancellor’s stunning play.

“I just think it’s unfortunate because it was such an incredible play,’’ Carroll said on the radio ahow. “An incredibly poised, disciplined, fully-in-the-moment play by Kam and also K.J. It was a perfect play to end a game in a dramatic fashion.’’

Bennett orders around Paul Allen on national TV

As Chancellor was being interviewed on the field after the game by Fox TV, teammate Michael Bennett barged in and loudly told Seahawks owner Paul Allen to show Chancellor the money.

“Pay him. Pay him!” Bennett screamed into the camera. “Paul Allen is the 17th-richest man in the world. Pay him!”

Chancellor held out of training camp and the first two games while demanding an improved contract that has two more years to run. But after the Seahawks stood firm, Chancellor, minus two game checks worth about half a million dollars, gave in and came back.

In the eight quarters since his return, Seattle’s defense has permitted only one field goal.

Bennett has his own motive: He also contemplated holding out after out-performing his contract. He came in, but any success by Chancellor in renegotiating a deal would have opened the door to same for Bennett.


Carroll said backup RB Fred Jackson may have a high ankle sprain, a more serious kind. Carroll hoped that Marshawn Lynch, who warmed up Sunday but sat out of the game with a hamstring strain, may return for Sunday’s game in Cincinnati against the 4-0 Bengals . . . Carroll said he was dropping the phrase “work in progress” to describe the team’s weak link, the offensive line. “We need to get better now,” he said. But he didn’t commit to any personnel changes in a short week of practice: “I don’t know. If we have to make some decisions we’ll make some decisions, but we are trying to figure it out.’’ One point of emphasis will be improving the shotgun snaps from newbie C Drew Nowak: “That needs to be a non-factor and that was a factor last night on a number of plays. Drew’s got to do better on that.’’ . . . The Seahawks are tied with the San Francisco for fewest offensive touchdowns in the NFL through four games: five.


  • 1coolguy

    Time for Patrick Lewis to take over center. He did a very good job last year when Unger was out.

  • 1coolguy

    Bennett is a fine player who may be over straying his welcome. We could get a lot in trade for him. Tired of his jive.

    • Lodowick

      I agree. I’m tired of the tirades that are not about football and playing the game. Aren’t the Seahawks maxing out on the hard cap? The idea that players think they are owed money now for years that are yet to come is odd. Why didn’t your agent negotiate to get that? They believe if they outplay the contract in any fashion at all the contract should be torn up and renegotiated and yet if they fail to live up to expected play they still get to keep their money. That’s called having your cake and eating it too. It’s simply a failure to understand the business side of things and an overfocus on an individuals worth as opposed to worth of the team.

      Regarding risk of injury, you are compensated to a greater degree than a policeman or fireman or soldier returning from a war zone without an arm. I hope this does not sound too conservative in terms of mindset. But hey, things are good. You’ve got a ring, a lot of money and probably an attractive wife. How bad can it be? You’ve only lost two games or two paychecks. Life is still pretty good. But the focus needs to be on beating Cincy on the road. Not easy. This Bengal team is confidant and rolling.

    • jafabian

      The logic that his boss needs to share his wealth because he has a lot of it doesn’t fly. I don’t think the players realize how Paul Allen earns his living and that his personal weath does not go to the Seahawks. Many of them probably aren’t even aware exactly what he does.

      • Eric K

        The main point is the NFL salary cap is the most rigid of any sport. Paul Allen’s wealth has nothing to do with it. Even if he wanted to go all Steinbrenner and have a payroll double the rest of the league he couldn’t.

        Which is also where it is a zero sum game for the players, Bennett should be careful what he asks for, more money for Kam means less for him.

        • jafabian

          I question if players truly understand just how teams make their income. IMO, they simply see the big picture. If the NFL signs a multi-billion dollar contract they assume there’s money for everyone. They hear Paul Allen has one of the biggest personal yachts in the world they hold onto that. How many of them are aware he mostly loans it out for research and rescue operations? You never hear them talk about Paul’s work. Only his wealth.

  • ll9956

    The OL problems are a vexing dilemma. I have no doubt that they’re all nice guys, but in the ruthless business environment of the NFL, that’s irrelevant. On Monday even veteran Russell Okung got beat twice. They’ve had four exhibition games and four regular season games to get better. Realistically how much improvement can be expected? Hopefully at least some, but It almost seems that Tom Cable is faced with the task of squeezing blood from a stone.

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  • jafabian

    There’s no advantage for the defense in the rule. If it rolls out of bounds it goes back to the offense. If the defender bats it or loses control of it and it goes out of bounds it goes back to the offense. It’s fumble recovery or nothing. I’m sure the competition committee will be looking hard at this game.

    • Pixdawg13

      Um. No. If it rolls out of bounds, it’s a touchback, and the team that was on defense gets the ball at the 20. Same if a defender attempts to recover it but it goes out of bounds, OR if he does recover it. The only case where the offense gets it back is if a defender bats it–whether out of bounds or no. Well, and of course if the offense recovers it, but that shouldn’t need to be said.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    How often have sports types gotten their underwear bunched up when they were sure a cornerback committed pass interference yet it wasn’t called? How many holding penalties go uncalled in the course of a game? It happens.
    Yes it was a crucial point of the game in Seattle monday night… it wasn’t called and that is that.
    One thing that kills me on programs like ESPN ,,,they are assuming that if the lions scored we would have lost the game. After the fumble in the end zone Wilson threw a pass that netted 50 yards to Kearse. They were almost in the red zone when they ran out the clock…We might have scored the last points and STILL won the game.
    The Hawks are one game behind AZ for a reason .Go take it to Cincy. Go Hawks!

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  • notaboomer

    holmgren and carroll getting many millions a year to coach and don’t know the rules? i’m not buying that. and it’s jim caldwell, not joe. remember? he coached the colts with peyton manning when they lost the 09 sooper blow.

    • Lodowick

      Wasn’t that the Super Bowl where the Colts defense gave up a 90% completion rate to Drew Brees over the last three quarters of the game? Definitely can blame Peyton for that. And the Colts game where the safety was laughing too hard to cover the receiver and fell down. That’s on Peyton too. It’s amazing how the Colts D was never responsible for the losses, or the defensive coordinator.

      • notaboomer

        why you hatin on peyton?

  • eddieTeacher

    Whether anyone knew the rule or not I think it’s generally understood that you don’t bat the ball into any general direction. It’s just not football. While it’s arguable that Sherman should have just batted the ball instead of going for the interception on the play that cost us the game against the Falcons in the playoffs a few years ago, no one really blamed him for going for the interception. The fact that Wright was unselfish and batted the ball says a lot of his character but perhaps in this case a more Shermanesque selfish play would have served the team better.