(Written by Ken Crawford)
I was reminded of an odd-rule that exists in both college and pros last night watching the 49′ers pre-season game. An offensive player committed a dead-ball foul just after making a first down. The result was the ball was moved back 15 years (it was a personal foul) and it was 1st and 10.
This has never made any sense to me. Shouldn’t it be 1st and 25?
If it’s 1st and 10 and the running back gains 5 yards and when he gets up he head-butts a defensive player (a dead-ball, personal foul), the ball will be moved back 15 yards and it will be 2nd and 20 instead of 2nd and 5. Those 15 yards don’t magically disappear as far as down and distance is concerned. Why if he instead gains 12 yards, does it not affect the post-foul down and distance?
Of course there are two possible ways to do it, both of which would make sense to me. If he gained 12 yards, it could be 2nd and 13, moving the ball back for the penalty before determining whether a 1st down was reached. Or it could be 1st and 25, moving the ball back after moving the chains. (BTW, 1st and 25 makes more sense to me, particularly since dead-ball fouls can happen a long time after the previous down is complete but still before the huddle of the next.)
But doing this weird ‘after the 1st down is reached but before the new chains are set’ thing just doesn’t feel right.
Anyone else ever thought this?