The Chicago Bears, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the 30-yard “Incompletion”

Rules of the Game: The 30 Yard “Incompletion”

On January 6, 2019, the Chicago Bears completed a 30-yard pass in their playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The pass was then fumbled as the Bears receiver went to the ground.

Unfortunately, the referee’s initial ruling of an incomplete pass was deemed non-reversible under the current interpretation of the NFL rules due to the fact that the officials (and not either team) “recovered” the fumble…which was, again, not called a fumble on the field.

And so, the 30-yard “incompletion” was born.

What do the NFL rules say about this mess?

How could they be changed (or interpreted differently) to avoid disregarding what everyone knows to be the correct ruling?

And what does this say about rule drafting, interpretation, and law in general?

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