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Was costly ‘leaping’ penalty the right call in Rams vs. Giants?

Ben Skowronek blocked a field goal by the Giants, but the leaping penalty on Rams let Mason Crosby re-kick

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Leading 14-7 with :04 seconds left in the first half, Rams receiver Ben Skowronek jumped over the Giants center to block a kick by Mason Crosby to preserve the touchdown lead. Skowronek celebrated, the Rams sideline went nuts, but it was all ground to a halt by the yellow cloth on the field. Skowronek was called for a rare “leaping” penalty, negating the block and letting the Giants get closer for a field goal re-try.

Crosby, who was on the Rams weeks ago, made the kick and cut the lead to 14-10. Will it change the outcome of the game? It changed the feeling of halftime, that’s for sure. Was it the right call?

As explained on the broadcast by the rules analyst, Skowronek must be on the line of scrimmage in order to leap. Like doing a box jump in the gym. Instead, Skowronek was a couple steps off the line and ran to leap over the center to block the kick. This is a rule designed for “safety”, which was explained when the rule was created in 2017:

“The jumping over on the field goal, I think, is just leading to a really dangerous play for everybody,” offensive lineman Eric Winston, the NFLPA’s president, said earlier this offseason, via the Washington Post. “If you jump over the center, the jumper is in a really bad spot. He can land on his head. I think the guys that are getting jumped over are going to end up getting hurt, with those guys landing on them. So I’ll be very interested to see what they’ll do there. I think something probably needs to be done.”

Prior to the leaping penalty, getting a running head start and jumping over the center was not a common or easy play—only 3 of 41 blocked kicks in 2016 were created this way—but the NFL and NFLPA felt it was not safe.

I think what seemed like the far more interesting aspect of the play is that Kobie Turner literally used both hands to push the center down to make sure that Skowronek would clear him, which nobody at Fox brought up once amid multiple replays. Is that a penalty? I have no idea. But Skowronek’s was called.