Via Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) – The idea behind the NFL’s institutionalization of a rule banning violent blows to the head and neck from defenseless recipients is to enhance player safety and limit opportunity for defensive players to “light up” vulnerable players. One way to discourage such hits is to introduce substantial penalties when they occur.
That’s why the situation during Sunday’s Rams-Buccaneers playoff game revealed a strange loophole that would allow a ferocious blow to the head of a essentially defenseless receiver. punished.
Apparently the officials on the field called the penalty kick. But that’s the exact problem at hand.
The incident happened at the beginning of the fourth quarter, when the Rams led the Buccaneers 27-13. The Bucs were threatening to turn it into a one-own game when Tom Brady threw in on Evans, who was running up the left sideline at 4th and 14th from the Rams’ 36-yard line.
The pass didn’t complete, thanks to Jalen Ramsey’s tight coverage, but safety Eric Weddle was late to deliver a helmet-to-helmet hit on Evans.
As a rule, this is a personal foul for needlessly rough behaviour. That’s the exact hit the NFL has sought to eliminate by adding protection for defenseless receivers. It was flagged as such.
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But because the football hit the pitch just before the stroke was made, the penalty was technically a dead ball foul. Again, it was ruled as such. And the impact of the penalty has been significantly mitigated.
Instead of the Buccaneers being set up with a first team and 10 at the Rams’ 21-yard line, the Rams took over revenue on the drop, at their own 22-yard line. And because of the way a yard penalty is applied to a deadball foul, they don’t even need to win more than the usual 10 yards to move the leash while in possession of the ball.
From that angle, damage to Tampa Bay was minimized, as Matt Gay missed target for 48 yards at the end of that driveway. But the Bucs’ chance to score was taken away. And with a three-point win for the Rams to decide the game, that is obviously quite important.
The problem lies in the timing of the soccer ball on the field versus the reason the rule exists. While the ball was clearly dead, Evans remained on the defensive after attempting a catch. In that moment, the rules still protected him. The rules also say that’s been enough time for the play to end, but not enough time for Evans to give up being defenseless.
That is to say, the ball is “dead” as far as play is concerned, but the action in play and Evans’ position at the time of the shot are very much alive.
And Evans happened to lean into football upward instead of down, the penalty will be enforced as a foul on the live ball, and the Bucs will continue in possession with a host of new kills. Same exact shot, exact same time, exact same penalty, totally different result, just based on the direction of the slant pass.
Once again, the home side did as the law dictated, even if Shawn Hochuli needed a full Hochulian minute to explain himself on the pitch. But the federation should use this example as a loophole that should be closed. Although it is virtually impossible for a defensive player to manipulate this rule in a way that allows him to make headers as soon as the pass hits the field, the federation may still desire a penalty appropriate to the offense. reputation for a rule that is paramount to efforts to increase player safety.
https://boston.cbslocal.com/2022/01/24/loophole-nfl-penalty-hitting-defenseless-receiver-exposed-eric-weddle-mike-evans-hit-bucs-rams/ A hole in NFL penalty for hitting defenseless recipient exposed on Eric Weddle-Mike Evans hit – CBS Boston