During the Week 1 game between the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles, there were several moments in which Jalen Hurts avoided a sack by throwing the ball away at the last moment. But there was one particular play in which he likely got away with an intentional grounding that was not called.
The play happened at the 7:56 mark of the second quarter. Facing a first-and-goal from the Lions’ 6-yard line, Hurts felt pressure coming from his right side via Aidan Hutchinson and up the middle from Charles Harris. Seeing as he had no escape route, he just flipped the ball forward without a receiver in sight.
Because the ball was not in the vicinity of an eligible Eagles receiver, In order to avoid an intentional grounding on the play, Hurts would have had to accomplish two things, as outlined in the rule book here (emphasis added):
Item 1. Passer or Ball Outside Tackle Position. Intentional grounding will not be called when a passer, who is outside, or has been outside, the tackle position, throws a forward pass that lands at or beyond the line of scrimmage, even if no offensive player(s) have a realistic chance to catch the ball (including when the ball lands out of bounds over the sideline or endline).
So Hurts needs to be outside of the tackle position, and the ball needs land at or beyond the line of scrimmage. It turns out Hurts’ play did not meet either of those qualifications, much less both.
Here, you can see the turf pellets kick up from the ball well behind the line of scrimmage:
As for the tackle box, here’s where it was established at the snap:
And here’s where Hurts is when he throws the ball:
... very much inside those original lines.
On Wednesday, Campbell said they submitted the play for review from the league, and the NFL admitted the mistake.
“Yeah, we turned it in, and they said they were wrong,” Campbell said.
Unfortunately, even though this is a black-and-white call that was missed—especially when it comes to the ball reaching the line of scrimmage—this play was not reviewable, and Campbell confirmed they could not challenge the play.
“No, you can’t review that.”