by Rob Joyce
You would think a dozen or so examples would be enough to deter a player from doing it, yet it keeps happening. Instead of waiting until they are actually in the end zone, football players get a little premature in their celebrations, and wind up losing the ball before they actually break the plane. It’s embarrassing, it costs a team points, and it happened for the first time this year on Sunday.
At the end of the Bears-Steelers first half Chicago blocked a field goal and returned it for what looked like a sure touchdown. Instead, Marcus Cooper got a little cocky and slowed up around the 10-yard line, ultimately getting stripped of the ball at the one. The Bears wound up scoring a field goal from the ensuing mess, ultimately losing four points (they won the game in overtime).
But that doesn’t prevent Cooper from joining this unfortunate group who made bone-headed plays.
The then-Broncos’ linebacker had an easy pick-six of Joe Flacco during a blowout of the Ravens. But his early celebration caused him to drop the ball early. It wound up going out of the back of the end zone, meaning Baltimore got the ball back on a touchback. All was well, though, as Denver still won the game handily.
Now in the NFL, the running back played his college ball at Texas Tech, which was trying to pull off an upset of TCU in 2013. Things looked good when Washington appeared to score a 49-yard touchdown in the final five minutes to put the Red Raiders ahead, but he dropped the ball early. Because the official picked it up, Tech was able to keep possession, but on top of letting go too early, Washington was hit with a 15-yard excessive celebration penalty. Luckily for Washington, his team was able to again find the end zone and pull off the upset of the Frogs.
In his rookie season with the Eagles in 2008, Jackson had what looked to be his first NFL touchdown… except for the part where he dropped the ball at the 1-yard line. A challenge by the Cowboys proved this, but because the play didn’t commence, Philadelphia was given the ball at the 1-yard line, where they scored on the next play. Jackson would have to wait a few more weeks for his first touchdown.
A 2014 Pac-12 contest between Utah and Oregon had a significant 14-point swing. Not only did Utes’ wideout Kaelin Clay drop the ball at the 1-yard line of what would have been a 79-yard touchdown, but the Ducks had the wherewithal to pick up the loose ball and return it for a score of their own. Instead of a 14-0 Utah lead, it was 7-7, and Oregon went on to cruise 51-27.
Lett is known for two plays in his career: a Thanksgiving Day blunder in the snow, and this. In Super Bowl XXVII against the Bills, the Cowboys’ defensive lineman recovered a fumble and had a clear path to the end zone. But, to quote the announcer, he started “hot dogging” it around the 10-yard line and was stripped of the ball before the goal line. It went out of bounds in the end zone, and Buffalo regained the ball at the 20. It’s all good though – Dallas rolled 52-17 to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.