Originally Posted by Jackie Chiles
Normally no, it would not be legal. Jacoby actually got bailed out, and I mean BAILED out, on a muff against Tennessee because the guy tackled him immediately after the muff which technically interfered with his ability to field the ball. Have to wait for the muff to hit the ground before you make contact with the player or the ball. 15 yards tacked on. Luckiest break ever. Difference is this ball had already bounced. You can't tell from that gif though.
OK, based on the other link, assuming Jacoby had called for a fair catch (can't see whether or not he did in the clip), he was supposed to not have been hit until the ball hit the ground. So, that's one thing that could have been called here but wasn't.
But, the bigger question is - when is it OK to tackle someone (who doesn't have the ball) from behind? I thought this would be, at least, an illegal block in the back or holding or something (and if it were, I'm not sure how the rules would say whose ball it was). Is it OK during a fumble? Was this considered a fumble when the ball hit the ground? Is it only in this one situation that these tackles are legal, or are there others? I mean, this guy wraps Jacoby up from behind and then tackles him so that he has no chance to recover the ball. It seems kind of weird that when the ball is fumbled, suddenly all the normal rules are out the door and anything goes. I'm pretty sure players can't do that at any other point in the game.
I'm really not trying to be an apologist for Jacoby here (it's his fault for not making that catch). I think it was time for him to go in Houston, though I don't have the level of negative feelings for him that some others around here do. But, I am curious about the rules, since this looks different from what I'm used to seeing.