Cowboys long snapper L.P. Ladouceur has been in the NFL since 2005 and to the best of his knowledge, Sunday’s game against the Redskins marked the first time that he had never been flagged for a snap infraction.
With just three seconds left to play in the Cowboys’ 20-17 loss to the Redskins, Ladouceur was called for a controversial false start penalty after officials on the field flagged him for a snap infraction. Basically, the officiating crew felt that Ladouceur illegally moved the ball and that movement caused Washington’s Jonathan Allen to jump offside.
The penalty was a huge, because it meant Cowboys kicker Brett Maher would have to attempt a 52-yard field goal to potentially tie the game, instead of a 47-yard kick. Maher’s kick ended up hitting the left upright and bouncing out, which gave the Redskins the win.
Ladouceur, who is now in his 14th NFL season, was baffled by the call after the game.
“Never had that before,” Ladouceur said, via ESPN.com. “I do the exact same thing every time, so when that happens, that’s what I was telling the ref: ‘I do the exact same thing. Yeah, the guy jumped.’ That’s what I thought.”
Due to the controversial nature of the play, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, Al Riveron, went on Twitter and explained the ruling shortly after the game.
“The illegal ball movement by the center causes the defense to come across the neutral zone and contact a lineman,” Riveron wrote.
Ladouceur would probably disagree with the fact that he did anything illegal and that’s because he’s been snapping the same exact way since 2005.
“I just adjusted down so I could put my hands on the bottom of it, so I could snap it in the right direction,” Ladouceur said. “Exact same thing I’ve been doing for 14 years … I’m not even trying to get him offside. I know the situation. Just too bad.”
When Ladouceur says he’s been snapping the same exact way for 14 years, he’s not kidding. On the VERY NEXT SNAP after the penalty, he once again adjusted the ball and guess what? No one threw a flag.
The reason you rarely see a snap infraction called is because officials will almost always let it slide when a long snapper is involved. According to Ladouceur, long snappers are generally allowed to get a better grip on the ball as long as they don’t completely lift it off the ground.
“As long as I don’t pick up the ball,” Ladouceur said when asked about the specifics of the rule. “The ball was on the ground the whole time.”
Although Riveron offered a short explanation about the penalty on Twitter, what he needs to explain is why Ladouceur wasn’t flagged on the other four kicks that the Cowboys attempted in Washington. Ladouceur did the same thing every time — he slightly moved the ball — and only got flagged on the most pivotal play of the game.
If Ladouceur got flagged because the opposing team jumped offside, as Riveron explained, then every Cowboys opponent should jump offside on every Dallas field goal attempt because the officials have now set a precedent where they would have to throw the flag if Ladouceur moves the ball just a few centimeters.
The bottom line is that the Ladouceur penalty has only made things more confusing. What he did is either a penalty or it’s not, which means it should be an easy call for officials, but that’s clearly not the case. The officials in Washington only flagged Ladouceur one out of five times on Sunday, which means it wasn’t a penalty 80 percent of the time.
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