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Mike Williams illegal touching penalty costs Buccaneers chance at overtime

We break down the illegal touching penalty that cost the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a chance for a tie against the New Orleans Saints.


Week 7 was a wild one in Tampa Bay as the Buccaneers just missed out on a chance to force overtime against the New Orleans Saints. On fourth and goal from the Saints' nine-yard line, Josh Freeman scrambled around before firing a pass to wide receiver Mike Williams for what appeared to be a tying touchdown. A flag was thrown, however, as Williams was called for an illegal touching penalty.

According to Rule 8, Section 1, Article 8 of the NFL Rule Book (PDF), "[i]t is a foul for illegal touching if a forward pass (legal or illegal), thrown from behind the line of scrimmage ... (b) first touches or is caught by an eligible receiver who has gone out of bounds, either of his own volition or by being legally forced out of bounds, and has re-established himself inbounds."

The announcers thought Williams was allowed to catch it because he had re-established himself in bounds, but as the rule shows, that is not the case. As for those arguing for illegal contact on the Saints for bumping the receiver out of bounds? Rule 12 states that rules governing illegal contact end when the quarterback leaves the pocket.

It was a proper call, and due to the expiration of the play-clock, the Buccaneers were correctly not allowed another opportunity.