Clarification on the DeSean taunting penalty

I received several e-mails and Tweets today about what exactly happened on the DeSean Jackson taunting penalty during Sunday night's game, and why his catch didn't count.

As you may recall, Jackson hauled in a 50-yard pass from Vince Young, but then flipped the ball at Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell (video below). Also on the play, Giants defensive tackle Linval Joseph was called for illegal use of hands.

The play was a confusing one because Joseph's penalty was during the play, or a live-ball foul, while Jackson's penalty was after the play, or a dead-ball foul.

The officials announced offsetting penalties, but the catch did not count, and the Eagles returned to their original line of scrimmage, their own 2-yard line.

I reached out to a league spokesman, who referred me to the following rule:

Section 3: Fouls by Both Teams

Double Foul Without Change of Possession

Article 1 If there is a double foul (3-11-2-c) without a change of possession, the penalties are offset and the down is replayed at the previous spot. If it was a scrimmage down, the number of the next down and the necessary line is the same as for the down for which the new one is substituted.

In other words, in the case of offsetting penalties, they just replay the down. There is no differentiation because Jackson's taunting penalty came after the play was over. Had Joseph not been whistled for a penalty, Jackson's catch would have counted and the taunting penalty would have been assessed from the new line of scrimmage.

There's one other rule that a couple of you have sent to me, wondering why it didn't apply here:


Third-and-3 on A30. B2 intercepts a pass and returns it for a touchdown. When B2 is at the A10, he turns and taunts A1 who is chasing him. A2 clips B5 during B2’s run.

Ruling: Touchdown Team B. Kickoff B35. The taunting foul is treated as a dead-ball foul, thus making this a "clean hands score." The fouls offset on the kickoff. (12-3-1-c)

I asked the league spokesman why this rule didn't apply and was told it only applies to a scoring play. Had Jackson scored, the touchdown would have counted.

"If DeSean Jackson would have scored a touchdown, the Eagles would have declined the penalty on the Giants, the touchdown would have counted and the 15-yard penalty against the Eagles for taunting would have been enforced on the kickoff," NFL vice president of football communications Michael Signora wrote in an e-mail. "The difference is purely because penalty enforcement in this situation when a score is involved is different from a non-scoring play."

So, if Jackson wants to taunt the opposing team, he should make sure he scores first.

Overall, the rule doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but the officials did make the correct call.

If your head has not exploded yet, I did Man Up on the defense earlier today.

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