Cardinals' reversed call hinged on Justin Bethel's possession of ball

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

The controversial downed punt in the Detroit Lions-Arizona Cardinals game was dead once Justin Bethel released the ball while standing near the Detroit 1-yard line, according to NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino.

After Bethel tossed the ball to a teammate, Lions kick returner Jeremy Ross picked up the loose ball and ran for 49 yards to the Arizona 46.

The Cardinals challenged the play and Blandino, who was speaking during his "Official Review" weekly segment on "NFL Total Access," said Tuesday the play was overturned based on two rules.

"The kicking team once they gain possession of the ball, the ball is dead," he said. "But on a punt they can't take the ball into the end zone. Even if they possess it, if they take it into the end zone. It's a touchback.

"This (play) is not a touchback because (Thompson) has re-established himself in the field of play, both feet down in the field of play before he touches it and then he's going to release the ball before he goes into the end zone."

Blandino said there also were a lot of questions about the process for determining if Thompson had possession of the ball.

"Think control, both feet inbounds and have it long enough to perform an act common to the game -- pitch it, pass it, advance it," he said. "Bethel has control, both feet and then he actually pitches the ball forward.

"As soon as he releases it, the play is dead and it's Detroit's ball at the 1 yard line."

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