Washington Suffers Consequences Of Yet Another Murky NFL Rule
Congratulations to Chris Culliver of the Washington football team, you are the latest victim of a flag-happy, unapologetically awful officiating crew that made a terrible call to totally screw you! It had to be someone, and it could have been anyone, but today it was you my friend.
The Washington cornerback made what by all accounts was a clean hit on Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen. After the hit, the ball was knocked loose and Culliver was able to corral it in for the interception and return it 75 yards for a touchdown.
The pick-six should have put Washington up 21-14 on the undefeated Panthers. Instead, the officials threw a flag on the play. Head official Jerome Boger called Culliver for an unnecessary roughness penalty, obviously erasing the interception and touchdown. Carolina eventually turned that possession into a touchdown, meaning that Boger's call resulted in a 14-point swing that never should have happened.
Except oh wait, here comes the NFL rulebook to muddy up the waters.
Apparently there is a rule that justifies this call as unnecessary roughness on a defenseless receiver. According to Mark Maske, an NFL reporter for The Washington Post, the call was correct; by the letter of the law.
Fox Sports Rules Analyst and former VP of Officiating in the NFL Mike Pereira went on to back up Maske's explanation, recognizing that while the rule makes it extremely hard for guys to actually play defense, the hit was illegal.
"Now the hard part about this for a defensive player is, Olsen had basically altered his body position. He went down to brace for the contact. But the rulebook says the entire liability falls on the defensive player, even though the offensive player changes his position..."
Oh! Well when you put it like that, it makes even less sense. There has to be a difference between protecting truly defenseless players and penalizing defenders who are just doing their jobs by making the only play that is there to be made.
So yet again it boils down to the fact that despite our common sense telling us that it was good, clean football play, it is a pretty brutal penalty according to the NFL rulebook. It's hard to see what Culliver could have done differently in that situation, other than step aside and let Olsen catch the ball and saunter down the field. Unfortunately this is yet another example that the ever-thickening NFL rulebook isn't clarifying the rules of the game; it's merely giving officials more excuses to fall back on when they make their shitty calls.
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