Apparently, having a quarterback turn and run into you as a defender is now a defensive infraction in the NFL.
(h/t Cork Gaines)
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Dan Skuta was flagged for unnecessary roughness/blow to the head for the play above in Sunday’s NFC Divisional Playoff against the Carolina Panthers.
As the GIF above pretty clearly shows, Skuta’s crime was being engaged with Carolina offensive lineman Jordan Gross at the same time Panthers quarterback Cam Newton tried to turn and run in that direction.
I’m all for protecting quarterbacks, the most valuable asset for most teams. But this call shows that the quick-trigger enforcement against almost any contact against a quarterback is getting a little out of hand.
This is the second time this season the 49ers have been hit by with potentially game-changing penalty after what appeared to be a legitimate hit on a quarterback. In San Francisco’s Week 9 loss at New Orleans, linebacker Ahmad Brooks was flagged for unnecessary roughness for a hit on Drew Brees that appeared to create a game-sealing fumble.
Instead, the Saints were able to get the winning points at the end of the drive that was extended by the 15-yard penalty and automatic first down.
Again, I’m not advocating declaring open season on quarterbacks. Intentional blows to the head should be discouraged at all costs. But flagging a guy for an intentional blow to the head when a quarterback turns his head into the defender’s facemask and shoulder area is about as far from intentional contact as one can get.
Seriously, if we’re going to start flagging guys for getting run into, we’re nearing watering the game down to the point of no return.