Scoring an own goal in football is a rare but very real occurrence – but have you ever seen an NFL team score an own touchdown?
That’s essentially what happened today, as a scrum of Cleveland Browns defenders grabbed Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler, and threw him over the goal line against his will.
“The Browns pushed him in … he wanted to let it die,” commentator Ian Eagle said.
That might sound insane, but it was actually a brilliant bit of thinking by Cleveland and coach Kevin Stefanski.
The Browns led, 43-42, but were out of timeouts with the Chargers just a few yards away from scoring.
A field goal from that distance is almost a 100 per cent play for any team, and with Cleveland out of timeouts, LA were content to run down the remaining two minutes of the game.
In fact, on the previous play, Ekeler had a path to a touchdown but elected to slide to the turf a yard short of the line.
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The touchdown gave the home team a 48-43 lead, but presented Cleveland and quarterback Baker Mayfield with one more opportunity to drive for the win.
The game eventually ended with a desperate Hail Mary pass to the endzone hitting the turf.
Players will sometimes forego scoring in order to remain in possession and run out the clock, as Ekeler attempted to do – and sometimes, the defence will see this and simply get out of the way and let them score.
The most famous example of a team letting their opposition score came in Super Bowl 42, when New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw reluctantly fell over the line to give the New England Patriots the ball back – but that was the defence getting out of the way, rather than physically helping the attacker score against his will.
Much like today, the Patriots came up short, but the play enabled them to get one last chance they otherwise would not have had.
Today’s win puts the Chargers at 4-1 and alone at the top in the AFC, although both the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens could join them after their games later today, and tomorrow, respectively.
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