Baltimore Ravens

Johnny Football's trick play stopped by penalty, nullified 39-yard reception

CLEVELAND — In a gambit of trickery involving "Johnny Football," the Cleveland Browns tried a bit of deception Sunday against the Ravens.

But Browns rookie running back Terrance West was flagged for an illegal shift that nullified the slick 39-yard sideline reception by rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel. Manziel went into the game in the second quarter and handed off to running back Isaiah Crowell.


On the ensuing play, Manziel ran toward the sideline. However, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M didn't actually leave the field. He went up to offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who then motioned Manziel to run his pattern once the football had been snapped.

A former high school wide receiver, Manziel ran down to the Ravens' 23-yard line before he was pushed out of bounds.


Regardless of the penalty by West, a former Towson standout who grew up in Baltimore, the play shouldn't have been allowed.

Under NFL rules, it was an "illegal hideout play" that could have drawn a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Appearing on FOX, former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira said that a player can't line up or set within a five-yard distance from the sideline between the 32-yard lines.

The NFL later affirmed that Periera's interpretation of the rulebook was correct.

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"Our two-set play list in there, so I ran the first one on one play and then came back out and tried to get them a little confused as we were subbing in," Manziel said. "We really got the look that we wanted, and we took off.

"Unfortunately, we got a penalty on it. I played receiver in high school, so it really wasn't a big deal, just one play in the game. I wish we could have not had the penalty, but that's how it goes.

The Browns disagreed with Periera and the NFL's assessment.

"It was our understanding that where he was lined up was sufficient," Browns coach Mike Pettine said. "Defensively, you always teach your guys, 'Make sure you scan the field.' It's a play that surfaces throughout the league a couple times a year."

Hoyer thought the play should have been allowed under the NFL rulebook.


"From what we were told and we practiced it that way all week, was as long as he doesn't come off the field and try to come back on, it's a legal play," Hoyer said. "That's not what we got called for anyways. We got called for illegal motion because there was a little bit of a mix-up there. The league will have to deal with that."