Don’t expect the New England Patriots to be victimized by the NFL’s “survive the ground” rule anytime soon.
The Patriots certainly benefited from the NFL’s head-scratching rule Sunday night in Pittsburgh when Steelers tight end Jesse James saw his potential game-winning touchdown overturned as he was unable to secure his catch into the end zone.
Had the roles been reversed, it’s unlikely the Patriots would have suffered a similar fate. Not because they’re inherently more lucky than Pittsburgh (although Steelers fans might argue otherwise), rather the Patriots are coached not to reach for the goal line or the pylons.
Former Patriots executive and longtime Bill Belichick confidant Michael Lombardi revealed Sunday night on The Ringer’s “GM Street” podcast that New England players are forbidden from lunging toward the end zone and doing so will earn them a seat on the bench.
“In New England, you’re not allowed to extend — like, you can’t extend the ball in New England. That’s a rule,” Lombardi said. “If you do it, you’re not going to play. You’re not going to go to the pylon because — the reason is, not because you think you’re going to lose control of the ball, (but) because the ball gets slapped out or you fumble.”
(Hear more from Lombardi in context of the conversation below.)
Of course, the Steelers had another chance to win the game or at least tie it with a field goal and force overtime. However, the Steelers looked a little confused and Ben Roethlisberger’s pass into the end zone was broken up and intercepted, effectively ending the game.