Rule 7.2.1(e) of the NFL Rule Book -- or at least the interpretation of said rule by the officials working Sunday's New York Giants-Arizona Cardinals game -- helped save the Giants in a 31-27 New York victory.
The rule came into play with less than four minutes to play and the Giants trailing, 27-24. Victor Cruz of the Giants caught a pass from quarterback Eli Manning and went down at the Arizona 29-yard line. It wasn't clear whether Cruz stumbled or went down on purpose. It was clear that he then placed the ball down and got up without ever being touched.
Arizona picked up the ball for an apparent fumble recovery, but officials ruled that Cruz had "given himself up," ending the play and making it unreviewable.
From NFLFootballInfo, the rule reads as follows:
"Official shall declare ball dead...when runner declares himself down by falling to ground or kneeling & making no effort to advance."
On the next play Manning hit Hakeem Nicks down the left sideline for a 29-yard touchdown, providing the Giants with their winning 31-27 margin.
Cruz admitted to being "scared" that the play would be ruled a fumble. He later tweeted "Refs made the right call ... lesson learned though."
Giants' quarterback Eli Manning told reporters he thought the Giants had gotten a break.
"Yeah, we got a break on that one. I thought it was going to get ruled a fumble," Manning said.
Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt did not seem to know what to think.
"What's the understanding of that rule? I don't know. It shouldn't have come to that," Whisenhunt said after watching the Giants come back from a pair of 10-point fourth-quarter deficits.
Cardinals' safety Kerry Rhodes said the Cruz call was "crazy."
"He went down and tried to get back up. I knocked the ball out of his hands. ... I guess he gave himself up. I don't know the rule. That's the way it goes in this league."
I am sure we will hear much more about this call Monday and throughout the week. As far as the Giants are concerned, though, they escaped the desert with a victory. That, I'm sure, is all they care about.