The Ken Stabler Rules

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Posted: June 3, 2018


The “Holy Roller” refers to a contentious play that happened during a game between the Oakland Raiders and Chargers on September 10, 1978 to allow the Raiders to win the game 21-20. With 10 seconds leftand the Raiders trailing 20-14, Oakland’s Dave Casper recovered a forward fumble by Ken Stabler at the endzone, making a touchdown. However there were many ensuing contentions about the ruling of the play with many in the Chargers camp claiming that two of the Raiders’ players had committed illegal interventions that led to the fumble by Raider Ken Stabler.

As a result of the controversy, the NFL decided to change the rules to prevent a repeat. The new rules, which restricted advances after the offense fumbles, are widely known as the Ken Stabler Rules.

Lead up and Events of the Play

In the week 2 game played at the San Diego Stadium, Oaklandfound themselves just 10 seconds from losing 20-14. They had possession on the Charger’s 14-yard line with quarterback Ken Stabler taking the snap. San Diego’s Woodrow Lowe was coming in for the sack, leaving Stabler having to take a snap decision. At that moment defensive end Fred Dean hit Stabler, forcing the quarterback to hurl the ball forward as the seconds were quickly ticking away.

The ball rolled slowly on the ground towards the Chargers goal line. Oakland’s Pete Banaszak tried to pick the ball but only managed to swat it forward. Dave Casper kicked the ball from the five yard line then fell on it at the end zone to make a touchdown. The Chargers sideline rose in protest as referee Jerry Markbreit allowed the touchdown to stand. However their calls went unheeded. Placekicker Errol Mann scored the extra point to extend the lead to 21-20.

In the week 2 game played at the San Diego Stadium, Oakland found themselves just 10 seconds from losing 20-14. They had possession on the Charger’s 14-yard line with quarterback Ken Stabler taking the snap. San Diego’s Woodrow Lowe was coming in for the sack, leaving Stabler having to take a snap decision. At that moment defensive end Fred Dean hit Stabler, forcing the quarterback to hurl the ball forward as the seconds were quickly ticking away. The ball rolled slowly on the ground towards the Chargers goal line.

Oakland’s Pete Banaszak tried to pick the ball but only managed to swat it forward. Dave Casper kicked the ball from the five yard line then fell on it at the end zone to make a touchdown. The Chargers sideline rose in protest as referee Jerry Markbreit allowed the touchdown to stand. However their calls went unheeded. Placekicker Errol Mann scored the extra point to extend the lead to 21-20.

Aftermath of the Game

After the game, Stabler stated that his play was an intentional attempt at fumbling. Due to the high coverage of the play in the media, the NFL was forced to act. They passed a new rule that only allowed a player who fumbles to advance it only after a two minutes warning. The rule, widely referred to as the “Ken Stabler Rule” means that it is unlikely another Holy Roller will ever h

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