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During the Patriots-Broncos game on November 29, 2015, Brock Osweiler had his hand hit as he was passing the ball, causing it to pop up and end up in the direction of the linemen. Could an offensive lineman legally catch the ball? The ball was not touched by the person who hit the hand of the QB.

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    Just a note: Your title doesn't match your description (as the answer correctly notes). A ball is considered "tipped" if the ball is touched by another player. A ball thrown by a hit quarterback is not considered "Tipped". I'll adjust the title to reflect this. I don't love what I came up with, by the by, so if someone else has a better way to phrase - please do. – Joe Nov 30 '15 at 21:55
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The key to what you’re asking is your statement:

The ball was not touched by the person who hit the hand of the QB

If you frame that in the context of the eligible receivers rule you'll see…

ELIGIBLE RECEIVERS

Article 5 Eligible Receivers.

The following players are eligible to catch a forward pass that is thrown from behind the line of scrimmage.

(a) Defensive players.

(b) Offensive players who are on either end of the line, provided they either have the numbers of eligible players (1-49 and 80-89) or have legally reported to play a position on the end of the line. See 5-1-2.

(c) Offensive players who are legally at least one yard behind the line at the snap, provided they either have the numbers of eligible players (1-49 and 80-89) or have legally reported to play a position in the backfield.

(d) All other offensive players after the ball has been touched by any defensive player or any eligible offensive player.

The key to your question is 5d. Since the defender did not touch the ball, the O-lineman is not eligible.

  • I would add the specific rule at hand - Rule 8, Section 2, Article 8. ARTICLE 8. ILLEGAL TOUCHING OF A FORWARD PASS It is a foul for illegal touching if a forward pass (legal or illegal), thrown from behind the line of scrimmage: is first touched intentionally or is caught by an ineligible offensive player; or 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. – Joe Nov 30 '15 at 21:54
  • I think you're missing a key issue, which is whether it was a pass or a fumble. If it was a fumble, then a lineman can catch it out of the air. That particular pass in the Broncos game was ruled a pass, and the defender given an interception, but a QB having their hand hit could easily result in a fumble instead. – DCShannon Nov 30 '15 at 22:56
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    @DCShannon I don't think we are missing any key issues, since the OP was asking specifically about that play where it was ruled a forward pass. If it was a generic question about the rule, you'd be right. – New-To-IT Dec 1 '15 at 14:28
  • @New-To-IT I'm interpreting the question as about a general type of play, with that one as an example, but I suppose I can see the other interpretation. – DCShannon Dec 1 '15 at 18:47

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