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If an airborne receiver heading out of bounds reaches out and breaks the plane of the end zone with the ball, moments after the ball was held outside the field of play (over the sideline), shouldn't the ball be called dead at the point it went over the sideline? Only seems fair, if the ball can cause a touchdown by going over the end zone (see KC vs. Oakland 10/19/17).

  • I would note that you're incorrectly using airborne receiver there. He's already made the catch, so he's a runner at that point. Receiver and runner makes a difference in some cases. (Not this one.) – Joe Oct 20 '17 at 22:12
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No, the ball shouldn't be called dead because it is still a live ball. The goal line does not work the same way as the boundary lines. To be down out of bounds, a ball must make physical contact with the ground outside the playing field.

ARTICLE 3. BALL OUT OF BOUNDS Item 1: Ball in Player Possession. A ball that is in player possession is out of bounds when the runner is out of bounds, or when the ball touches a boundary line or anything that is on or outside such line, except another player or an official.

NFL Rulebook

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    Well, the ball, or the runner, must touch the ground outside the playing field, no? But your point is correct. – Joe Oct 20 '17 at 22:10
  • @Joe Yes but that's not what the OP was asking and not what the quoted rule was addressing. He asked shouldn't the ball be out of bounds if it crosses the plane. – GB11 Oct 21 '17 at 13:01
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Rules applicable to this question are,

RULE 7 BALL IN PLAY, DEAD BALL, SCRIMMAGE: SECTION 2 DEAD BALL

ARTICLE 1. DEAD BALL DECLARED. An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended:
(e) when a runner is out of bounds
(k) when a touchdown, touchback, safety, field goal, or Try has been made
(o) when the ball is out of bounds

Definition of out of bound,

ARTICLE 1. PLAYER OR OFFICIAL OUT OF BOUNDS
A player or an Official is Out of Bounds when he touches a boundary line, or when he touches anything that is on or outside a boundary line, except a player, an official, or a pylon.

ARTICLE 3. BALL OUT OF BOUNDS
Item 1: Ball in Player Possession. A ball that is in player possession is out of bounds when the runner is out of bounds, or when the ball touches a boundary line or anything that is on or outside such line, except another player or an official.

Which clearly suggest that the ball is not dead as neither runner nor ball is out of bound (see definition). But the ball is dead after referee awards a touchdown.

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