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SNF rules analyst explains why Brandon Aiyuk apparent muffed punt was not a safety

This was the most bizarre play in a very bizarre night of rainy football.

San Francisco 49ers Wide Receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) chases down a punt during the NFL football game between the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers on October 24, 2021 at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Week 7 Sunday Night Football was an ugly one this week thanks to a downpour most of the evening. Players struggled to catch passes and hold onto the ball, and it culminated with a bizarre play on a 49ers attempted punt return.

The Colts punted to the 49ers midway through the second quarter and Brandon Aiyuk completely screwed up on the play. He seemed to boot the ball into the end zone and picked it up before he went out of bounds. Most people thought it was a safety, but it turns out it was not!

SNF rules analyst Terry McAulay offered up an explanation for the rule and why it makes sense. Whether we agree or not, McAulay was a long-time NFL official, so he has plenty of history and knowledge to bring to the table.

I know people think this is a bad rule, but it’s really not. The impetus that sends the ball across the goal is attributed to the player that initially kicks, passes, or fumbles the ball. That impetus doesn’t change unless the original impetus is spent, either by the ball being nearly at rest or by some intentional act by another player such as a bat or an illegal kick. This play was an extreme example of course, but normally to rule otherwise would make officials determine whether the ball would or would not make it to the end zone from the original impetus and that would be extremely subjective and almost impossible to determine in real time.