John Harbaugh made clear that C.J. Mosley needed to hold onto the ball on his interception return.
But he also made clear that he is no fan of the rule that proved to be the turning point of Sunday's 16-10 loss to the Redskins.
To review, Mosley made a leaping interception at the Redskins 13-yard line and ran toward the end zone. As he neared the left corner of the end zone, Mosley reached out and tried to extend to the goal line, but he lost the ball, which bounced into the end zone and out of bounds for a Redskins touchback.
"Not only do you lose the turnover, you lose 19 yards of field position," Harbaugh said after the game. "I think it’s a crazy rule, but we have to understand that, and you have to protect the football when you’re doing that.”
No other time, other than on a fourth-down stop, does a team gains possession after a fumble without actually recovering it.
"To me, it’s way too much of a punishment for what happened," Harbaugh said on Monday.
"If you fumble it out of bounds anywhere else, the team that loses the ball gets the ball right there. If you fumble it through the end zone, you lose the ball and you lose 20 yards of field position. [That’s] pretty hard one to figure out.”
He's not alone. Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio has called it "one of the worst rules in the game." Veteran pro football writer Don Banks, writing for NFL.com this week, called it "the league's worst, most nonsensical rule."
"Washington gets the ball at its own 20 on a touchback, somehow gaining yardage in the process of throwing an interception," Banks wrote. "In my view, that's way too much of a penalty for the team that created the turnover and made the positive play to begin with, and rewards the club that committed the turnover in an out-of-proportion manner.
"Give the ball to Baltimore in this case at the spot of the fumble, because nobody on Washington recovered it and deserves possession of the ball."
Any rules changes would have to go before the Competition Committee, which nixed Harbaugh's suggestions last year for expanded instant replay and regarding eligible receivers.
"I'm staying out of the Competition Committee stuff," he said.
In the meantime, Harbaugh said, "We don’t want to fumble the ball any time, especially through the end zone.”