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Why the Packers' fair catch interference call was correct, even if Ted Ginn Jr. bobbled the ball

A muffed punt on a fair catch isn’t fair game until the ball hits the turf.

Ted Ginn nearly gave Brett Hundley a gift for his first NFL start — a free pass to the red zone. Fortunately for the New Orleans specialist, his muffed punt and subsequent recovery was wiped away by the rulebook.

Ginn’s butterfingered punt return came to rest in the arms of Packers’ defensive back Josh Jones, but officials overturned the turnover after ruling Jones had made contact with Ginn as he tried to corral the bobbled punt. NFL rules state a fair catch provides protection for the returner until the ball hits the ground, and Jones’ swat at the ball constituted a violation. New Orleans was awarded the ball at its own 20-yard line — the spot of the fair catch signal.

What this means for New Orleans: The call bought the Saints some time before their next turnover. Drew Brees hit Ginn for a 40-yard gain two plays after the interference call, but his next pass would be picked off by Davon House. That gave the All-Pro passer two interceptions in the first quarter of Sunday’s game.