Seeking clarity on Victor Cruz non-fumble

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Referee Jerome Boger's ruling that New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz had declared himself down, and therefore had not fumbled, produced confusion Sunday.

The Arizona Cardinals had not touched Cruz following his fourth-quarter reception during the Giants' go-ahead drive. Cruz went down, then flipped the ball forward as if the play had ended. A turnover in that situation might have proved pivotal to the outcome, but Boger ruled Cruz down and said the play could not be challenged.

The 2011 NFL rulebook outlines several conditions for a dead ball, including:

  • "When a runner declares himself down by sliding feet first on the ground. The ball is dead the instant the runner touches the ground with anything other than his hands or his feet; or ... when a runner is out of bounds, or declares himself down by falling to the ground, or kneeling, and making no effort to advance."

Cruz did seem to be declaring himself down when he flipped the ball forward, but he did not slide feet first to the ground, and there was some question as to whether he had satisfied all conditions for declaring himself down or had simply stumbled on the play.

Fox analyst Mike Pereira, former NFL officiating director, said he thought the play should have been ruled a fumble because Cruz had stumbled.

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said his team's 31-27 defeat never should have come down to such a play. He also wasn't certain how the rule should have been applied to that situation. Cruz gained 19 yards on the play. The Giants took the lead with a 29-yard touchdown pass on the next play.