Hopefully, Peyton Barber doesn’t find himself cut after a badly botched return Saturday.
The Raiders running back and special teamer pulled off something of a boneheaded play on a kickoff during the opening wild-card playoff matchup between the Raiders and Bengals. Back to receive after a Bengals touchdown, Barber grabbed the ball in bounds and then proceeded to step out.
While that isn’t wise in and of itself, what Barber was likely trying to do was draw a penalty for a kickoff out of bounds, which would have given the Raiders really good field position to start their next drive.
For those unfamiliar with the rule, if a player steps out of bounds before receiving the football and then takes possession of it while still out of bounds, then it’s a penalty on the kicking team for a kickoff out of bounds.
Had Barber followed the letter of the law, the ball would have been spotted at the Raiders’ 40-yard line as opposed to the Raiders starting at their 2, where Barber stepped out.
The rule gained notoriety in 2016 when Packers returner Ty Montgomery ran out of bounds and then fell on top of a ball in bounds to draw a penalty vs. the Lions. It had surfaced four years earlier with Randall Cobb, who did something similar with the Packers vs. the Titans.
The rule itself is fairly controversial — it’s known as the “straddle rule” — but the NFL hasn’t done anything to change it, much to the chagrin of the Raiders.
The botched return was an entry into a rather uninspiring start to the playoffs for the Raiders, who earned something of a miraculous postseason berth after a season of drama and strife. The Bengals held a 10-3 lead at the time of the kickoff and later extended the margin to 20-6.
Maybe the late Al Davis would have said it best: Just stay in, baby.