Lateral Confusion

This week there were more than enough strange and unusual plays, so it’s worth posting yet again to identify and explain some of them.

In the high scoring Monday night game, there was plenty of action, including a 98 yard Kickoff Return TD as well as a 0 yard Fumble Recovery TD in the end zone.  So again, make sure all of your TD distance rules start at 0 yards and go all the way up to 110 yards.

The other exciting and confusing play happened as the game ended, with a failed “hook and ladder” attempt.  McNabb threw a pass to DeSean Jackson, who then tossed it back to Hank Baskett, who then tossed it back again to Brian Westbrook.  It ended poorly as Westbrook was driven out of bounds.

A much more significant (and unplanned) lateral happened in the Colts game, when Manning threw a long pass to Gonzalez for 58 yards down to about the 18 yard line.  As he was in the process of being tackled, Gonzalez pitched it back to Reggie Wayne, who then ran it in for an apparent touchdown.  The play was challenged and Wayne was ruled down at the 1 yard line.  So what could have potentially been a very controversial touchdown for fantasy football leagues turned into a less significant but still confusing play.

Most fans who watch the play assume that the player who received the lateral (Reggie Wayne in this case) should get some rushing yardage as part of his stats for the game.  But that’s not how it works for a lateral.  He does receive credit for yardage on the play.  But not rushing yards.  Instead, the yardage after the lateral is considered a “continuation” of the play, so it is considered to be receiving yardage.

If you break down the individual stats for the 3 players involved for just that one play, it would read as follows:

Peyton Manning:  1 pass completion for 75 yards

Anthony Gonzalez: 1 reception for 58 yards

Reggie Wayne: 0 receptions, but 17 receiving yards

And if Wayne would have scored the TD, it would have been considered a 76 yard passing TD for Manning and an 18 yard receiving TD for Wayne, even though he still wouldn’t have received credit for a reception on the play.  Strange but true.

If the play would have started as a rushing play, such as a handoff to Addai, and then he had tossed a lateral to Wayne, then any yardage after that would be considered rushing yardage for Wayne.  Clear as mud?

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