The Broncos Exploited a Little-Known Rule for Their Game-Winning Blocked Field Goal

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

Denver Broncos special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis knows his way around the NFL rule book, which helped his team to a dramatic victory on Sunday.

With the New Orleans Saints lining up for a game-tying kick, the Broncos instead blocked it and took it back for a game-winning return instead thanks to a little-known loophole in the rule book.

And no, snarky Saints fans, I don't mean a rule that allows Broncos to score even when they almost definitely stepped out of bounds.

Here's the play in question. Pay close attention to No. 93 on defense, Jared Crick, just to the left of center.

Crick pushes Saints long snapper Justin Drescher to the ground, allowing Justin Simmons to leap over for the block.

While the rule book explicitly states a player may not use a lineman for leverage to jump over the line and/or block a kick, it does not prohibit someone else from pushing down for the leaper in question, in this case Simmons. Had Simmons made contact with Drescher, a penalty would have been assessed.

This maneuver even got the thumbs-up from Dean Blandino, the league's vice president of officiating, who doesn't pull punches in his criticism of officials.

"[Crick is] going to get his hands up on top of the snapper and push him toward the ground," Blandino said. "That's legal. Open-hand push, legal. If there was a grab and a push, that would be defensive holding."

Blandino also addressed that it appeared Will Parks stepped out on his way to the end zone, lamenting that without a clear angle down the sideline, it's impossible to confirm.

"In replay, we're not re-officiating the play," he said. "Replay is designed to fix obvious mistakes, and if it's not an obvious mistake then the call on the field must stand."

 

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