Key penalty in Steelers-Browns called in error
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[September 11, 2018]
The NFL's head of officiating
said Monday that Browns defensive end Myles Garrett should not have
been called for roughing the passer in the second quarter of
Cleveland's 21-21 tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Garrett took down Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a
third-down incompletion and was called for a personal foul. On the
next play, Steelers running back James Conner ran in for a touchdown
and a 7-0 Pittsburgh lead.
Al Riveron, the NFL's senior vice president of officiating, told
NFL.com that the official erred in calling the penalty on Garrett.
The defensive end was flagged for a violation of the rule that
prohibits a player from landing on the quarterback with most or all
of his body weight.
"The rule specifically says 'most, if not all, of your body
weight,'" Riveron told NFL.com. "So we want that player to make an
effort. And the last three or four weeks, we have pulled extensive
video to show the clubs exactly what we're talking about. ...
Because the question we get all the time is, 'Well, what do you want
our players to do?'
"Well, they have to not put the weight on the quarterback. And this
one yesterday showed, even though there is some body weight on Ben,
this is not what we would consider contact that rises to the level
of a foul."
Riveron did note that four other flags thrown for players landing on
quarterbacks -- on Atlanta's Grady Jarrett, Cincinnati's Carlos
Dunlap, Minnesota's Sheldon Richardson and New Orleans' David
Onyemata -- were correctly called as penalties under the
longstanding rule, which is an area of emphasis for officials this
The regulation regarding landing on the QB has been in place more
than 20 years. The rule has read: "When tackling a passer who is in
a defenseless posture (e.g., during or just after throwing a pass),
a defensive player must not unnecessarily or violently throw him
down and land on top of him with all or most of the defender's
weight." This year, the league replaced the word "and" with "or,"
giving refs more leeway to call a penalty.
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Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) forces a fumble
from Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) as
linebacker Christian Kirksey (58) goes for the ball during the
second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA
Through Sunday, 14 roughing-the-passer penalties were called in 14
Week 1 games. Over the past three seasons, the typical weekend of
games featured 6.8 such calls, per NFL Research. Riveron said 12 of
the 14 calls last weekend were correct.
The other incorrect call was on New Orleans' Marcus Davenport, who
was wrongly penalized for a non-hit on Tampa Bay's Ryan Fitzpatrick,
according to Riveron.
Riveron had yet to look at other plays that went unpenalized to see
if additional infractions were merited.
Riveron added that he hopes adjustments will be made by teams to
reduce the increase in safety-focused penalties.
"It's a combination of several things: the coaching, obviously the
players, and then the officiating," Riveron told NFL.com. "But I
think at the beginning, because it has not been called the way it
has been called or the committee wants it to be called now
differently or a certain way, then it levels off and everyone
adjusts to it."
--Field Level Media
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