Soccer, football, volleyball — it was all happening on Sunday afternoon.
Hours after Leo Messi and Argentina earned the country’s third World Cup final victory, the United States was treated to a rousing volleyball match during Chargers vs. Titans.
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Titans defensive backs Roger McCreary and Joshua Kalu combined for a volleyball-adjacent interception of Justin Herbert in the second quarter of their Week 15 matchup, capturing the attention of the NFL viewing public:
INT of the year? 😎
— NFL (@NFL) December 18, 2022
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) December 18, 2022
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Of course, the NFL has all sorts of rules regarding the batting of balls and the like, so there was some question as to whether the play was, in fact, legal. There are several aspects to the play:
— McCreary had control of the ball — despite not having “possession” — so had he batted it forward, it would have been an illegal forward pass, per the CBS broadcast.
— Had McCreary deflected the ball (i.e., a batted ball), it wouldn’t have been subject to those rules. Replay showed that McCreary had control of the ball and lateraled it to Kalu. So, no “tip drill” here.
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— There’s also debate as to whether a player can actually throw a pass despite not having true possession — two feet down with control. That wasn’t the case here.
Former NFL referee and current CBS rules analyst Gene Steratore explained why the play was legal:
Roger McCreary made one of the plays of the season in #TENvsLAC today by throwing this ball back in-bounds for an INT.
If this ball traveled forward, it would’ve been a penalty for an illegal bat. pic.twitter.com/IXXmvX3sLF
— Gene Steratore (@GeneSteratore) December 18, 2022
Because the ball was lateraled back into play sideways, not forward (though there’s some debate about that, too), the play was allowed to stand. The Titans and the Chargers entered the fourth quarter tied 7-7.
Whatever the case may be, the “rule of cool” reigned at least briefly in the No Fun League.