Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

17 Nov 2006

Unnecessary Roughness

Let's just say Dr. Z isn't crazy about how the league -- including officials during games -- metes out punishment. In particular, the Marlon McCree-on-T.J. Houshmanzilly hit during last Sunday's Chargers-Bengals game really got the good doctor riled up. I'm guessing Brooklyn Decker and that dopey "The Model vs. The Man" eases the pain, though.

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 17 Nov 2006

53 comments, Last at 18 Nov 2006, 4:25pm by morganja


by turbohappy (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 11:30am

I just really don't understand. Did everyone just listen to Dierdorf and not use their eyes? Their helmets did touch, but it in no way was a helmet-to-helmet hit!

by Dennis (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 11:42am

The overriding problem IMO is that the penaties/fines seem to be based on the results of the action, not the action itself. The penalties should be the same for the same action regardless of the outcome.

Say player A takes a cheap shot at player B and player B just shakes it off and stays in the game. Then player C takes a similar cheap shot at player D and player D is injured and out for the season. Player A should get the exact same penalty/fine as player C. But in reality, player C will probably be fined much more than player A, even though they did the exact same thing.

by Fiver (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 11:45am

That would be nice, but it just isn't the way the world works. There's attempted murder and there's murder, and the punishments are never going to be equal.

by PackMan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 11:53am

Did anyone else feel like a deliberate groin shot was worse than a safety coming in and hitting a receiver a second or two before the ball got there.

by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 12:02pm

There's a reason a shot to the nuts is funnier than head trauma.

One's crass, but unless it's crazy excessive, probably not terribly harmful. The other is just dangerous.

I see where Dr. Z is coming from. The inescapable nature of the game is already dangerous enough without making it much more dangerous by turning a blind eye to totally unnecessary cheap and vicious hits.

by TBW (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 12:12pm

Re 1:

Not only that, it wasn't McCree's hit that knocked Housh out, it was the second guy whose leg smashed into Housh's head that actually knocked him out.

It was certainly an egregious pass interference, but honestly if the came a second later at the same time the ball did, it's just a great play. A devastating hit to break up a pass.

There is no comparing this to the Haynesworth thing which was after the play and not at all in the context of a game.

by BD (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 12:21pm

Re: 1 and 6:

It was a total headshot. Watch the elbow came up and everything. It doesn't matter if he led with the helmet itself, the effect is the same. And at least if it had come when the pass arrived, Housh could at least in theory protected himself. All his momentum is going upfield while his concentration is still on the ball, because, according to the rules, he was still a protected player.

In the NHL it would be 5 and the gate. In soccer a red card. Even in the NBA it would have gotten at least a T. I don't understand why the NFL seems to not care about this kind of thing.

by MFurtek (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 12:22pm

I don't understand the logic that the hit from McCree-Housh was okay because it was actually the knee the knocked him out. Isn't that like saying the hit that knocked Trent Green out was okay because it was actually his impact with the ground that gave him a severe concussion? I understand the thinking, just don't see logic in it.

It's like someone falling asleep while driving and then slamming into a tree. They don't say "Well, if that tree wasn't there everything would've been okay... that stupid tree's fault!".

It was a dumb play and he should get a fine... especially since I thought the foul was launching rather than helmet-helmet contact. There have been plenty of non helmet-helmet plays that were given serious punishment. It could even fall under the "hitting a defenseless receiver" rule (although the ball was catchable).

by Craig (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 12:56pm

I'm not sure McCree should've been tossed from the game; a double enforced foul (Pass Interference for hitting early, and Unnecessary Roughness for going to the head) would seem to have fit, but I'm not sure if you can enforce multiple fouls on the same play.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 1:00pm

-4 I hope you aren't being serious. Did you even watch the game? The hit was AT MOST .2 sec beforehand. 1 or 2 secs beforehand is pure hyperbole.

-3 This is classic moral luck. Two people with identical actions but outside circumstances lead to different results.

The problem of moral luck is an interesting one, and you are right that normally we ignore the apperant unfairness associated with moral luck. This is due to epistemic concerns (a lack of information).

Someone speeding who runs over a child can go to jail while someone speeding who doesn't hit a child just gets a ticket. This is because there are probably other things the person with the bad "moral luck" was doing, not noticing children playing, not paying attetion to the road, having a car in ppor working order etc.

Taking consequences into account only makes sense BECAUSE we usually don't have all the relevant information in a situation.

I feel like this is generally not true in football where everything is on tape for the league and hits can be carefully scrutinized. In such a situation it is perfectly appropriate to punish people purely for their actions and not for those actions consequences.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 1:08pm

-7 He didn't lead with his elbow, hell if he has he would have broken his damn ulna. You want to hit a helmet elbow first at that speed. Watch the damn video he is clearly trying to be careful, and his explanation that he just lost track of the ball seems right on.

Overall I am fine with the penalty or a fine if these types of hits are going to be against the rules and league wants to crack down on this stuff (with deplorable segments like "jacked-up" I seriously doubt this).

But can we please please please stow the moral indignation. This is a violent game where people are playing angry and things happening very quickly. From all apearances it looks like McCree made an honest mistake, Hous forgave him, lets move on.

by TBW (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 1:09pm

The ground and a tree are stationary objects, all the injury is caused by the initial hit. The thigh that Housh's head ran into was moving in the other direction thus adding to the impact of the hit. It's the difference between riding your bike into a wall and riding your bike into a car coming at you at 20mph.

by TBW (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 1:13pm

bottom line, if the hit was better timed, so that it happened after the ball was in Housh's hands, this is a highlight film play about how McCree separated the receiver from the ball with his hit.

The injury was caused by the other player's leg. McCree had no control over that, it's an accident. They tend to happen when you have 22 men running as fast as they can around a confined area all chasing after one thing.

The penalty is simply that the hit was too early.

by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 1:25pm

Bottom line : if that hit had come after Housh had caught the ball and made a football move and resulted in a fumble, we'd be talking about how good McCree is. The fact is, people who can make bone-crushing hits are deified in the NFL. Coaches and many fans love to see it; "jacked up" is popular for a reason. People still talk about Lawrence Taylor and Dick Butkus in hushed tones even though they were famous for flat-out hurting people.

Therefore, only apply fines when a player is injured, and make the fine be payable to the injured player. It doesn't provide any sort of justice if the league pockets the money of its violent players in the atmosphere of violence that the league cultivates. It should serve as a mini-settlement for the injury.

by ABW (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 1:27pm

I don't care if the McCree's intentions was not to hurt Housh. He got there early, and that's not OK. You have to make it clear that it is the defender's responsibility to not hit a receiver before the ball gets there. Otherwise you are just going to have a lot of hits getting there "just a tenth of a second" too early, and a lot more receivers with concussions.

I would have been happy with the two-penalty solution in #9 or McCree getting a 10K fine or something like that after the game. An ejection is a little severe for what was just a dangerous play, not blatantly unsportsmanlike conduct.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 1:35pm

Re: 15

I'm with you. McCree definitely should have gotten the flag for interference. And he probably should be fined for it too. But all this righteous indignation about how it was helmet-to-helmet or how it's inexcuable for him to get there a second too early is just aggravating.

by Kyle, Louisville (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 1:36pm

Big Bengals fan here. My problem with the hit is that it was early and Housh had no possible way of knowing he was going to get hit like that. Big hits happen all the time, but generally the guy getting hit has some inclination that it's about to happen, such as when the ball is in his hands.

While I don't think the ball was a full second away or anything like that, it seems is was far away enough to be obvious that he was going to hit him early. I fully believe he hit Housh both hard and early on purpose, not to injure him, just to make him tentative about catching passes (which isn't really THAT bad, it just turned out pretty bad).

Ejection: too much, PF: should definitely have been called as well.

by theory (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 1:44pm

Where are refs supposed to draw the line between pass interference for bad timing and unnecessary roughness? The refs thought the hit was clean. The NFL seems to think the hit was clean, otherwise they would've fined him by now. It's obvious from the replay that Housh was hurt by the collision with Godfrey, not by McCree's hit. The hit looked vicious, but was it really any worse than any other time a defender hits a receiver early?

by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 2:04pm

I think part of the problem of this hit is that it occured during a game in which the secondary was getting constantly undressed. Since it seemed inevitable that the Bengals would march down and score, McCree's hit suggested that he didn't care about giving up the yards since they would be given up anyway, but he could take out one of Cincy's best weapons. It struck me as a desperate move by a pitiful safety, who took out his frustration of not being able to cover anyone by taking a cheap shot.

by elibolender (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 2:22pm

RE 15: So anytime a defender hits a receiver early the NFL should fine the defender to set an example? Every pass interference call should be fined now "to make it clear that it is the defender’s responsibility to not hit a receiver before the ball gets there?"

It is a fast and violent game. All that separated this "cheap shot" from being the jacked-up play of the week was about three or four tenths of a second.

by J (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 2:32pm

Seems to me that Dr. Z is drawing a little to much righteous indignation from standing on a particular side of a very fine line he's drawn.

Yes, McCree's hit on Housh was pretty brutal... but as has been said, a second later, it would have been clean, too. If you don't think receivers should be hit like that, you need to change the game so that dbacks aren't allowed to violently hit receivers to prevent completions.

Dr. Z has had too long a career in football to be suddenly by outraged over something so innate to the game.

Considering the terrible post-NFL career health problems and drastically reduced life expectancy that many if not most players suffer without the involvement of a dirty hit, it seems a little bit like false piety to be so outraged.

by ABW (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 2:37pm

Re: 20

I expect that if you are playing in the NFL you are able to judge where the ball is going to be and control your body to within those few tenths of a second.

If McCree had gotten there at the exact same time and wrapped Housh up and dragged him down with a normal textbook tackle, then Housh would have bounced up doing that stupid hand waving thing receivers do when they want a flag, and he would have gotten the PI flag and everything would be fine. But if you try and lay a big lick on a receiver coming across the middle, you had better be damn sure you aren't gonna get there early.

I think the "if it had been a half/quarter/tenth of a second later, it would have been on a highlight reel" defense is a load of crap. Yeah, and if frogs had wings they wouldn't bump their ass when they hop. It was early, it doesn't belong on a highlight reel, and yes, the separation between a fine and a highlight reel is tenths of a second.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 2:40pm

How about the defenseless receiver argument? If the receiver has a ball in hand and is looking elsewhere, any hits, no matter how sudden and nasty, are his own fault. So if Housh had it and HcCree separated him from the ball, yes, it would be rough but clean because Housh's responsibilty, one he has the ball, is to protect it and himself. That's why timing is so key there--half second too early, big penalty, half a second late and the WR keeps the ball and is a hero with a 25 yard catch and a concussion. Perfect timing and the ball flies up to be intercepted (or if Franco Harris is around, caught).

But if a man is in the air, laid out, looking backwards for a ball he has every right to, and the defender nails him (without making a play for the ball) then it's a PF for roughness (I'll stick with Unnecessary Roughness because if the hit is early it's clearly PI as well, but if the ball is uncatcheable, or late, or behind him, etc it's still UR, but maybe not PI), and as hard as intent is for refs to discern (in a split second? come on!) I'd say it's a judgement call whether or not to toss him.

The League can then decide at their leisure what to do as a followup. Sometims it's merited, sometimes not. Some guys gripe about the fines but carry them as a badge of honor. (Kenoy Kennedy and Rodney Harrison come to mind) That sends the wrong message. If the league wants to do more than just pay lip service to player safety, the fines should hurt.

sorry, too many parentheses....

by MTR (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 2:46pm

I don't understand the apologists. To me this looked like a classic attempt to take an opposing player out of the game: blindside, situation the player wasn't expecting it, launch your whole body at the head or knees.

To the people who say it's no big deal, what if it was a defender going at LT's knees away from the play? What if this hit was on Brady just after he threw a pass?

by TBW (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 3:13pm

Re 24:

If it was going after someone's knees away from the play, it would be cause for ejection and suspension in my opinion.

If it was on Brady AFTER a throw it would probably have been roughing the passer.

If I did that to someone walking down the street I would probably be arrested.

Context is everything. McCree did it do a player who was about to catch a pass a split second later. It was a football play. Had Housh's head not crashed into the other guy's leg resulting in the concussion we wouldn't be talking about this. Seriously, if he didn't hit his head and lay there on the field for a while, but instead hopped back up and ran back to the huddle we wouldn't be having this discussion.

The hit was clean, it was pass interference because it was too early. Housh got hurt because his head banged into someone else's leg. If that doesn't happen, the whole thing was a non-event.

by morganja (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 3:47pm

I agree with what Z is saying about the NFL not taking protecting players besides the quarterback. When will linemen be protected from cut-blocks? Atlanta deliberately took out both Peppers and Rucker in identical uncalled chop-blocks last year.

But the Mcree thing is the wrong posterboy for this issue. He got there a split second too early but laid a clean hit on the reciever. Definitely PI. Most likely PF in addition for a defenseless receiver. But the hit itself was clean. He led with his shoulder. He didn't try to injure Housh by going for his head or knees. He tried to make him think twice about catching over the middle by laying on a hard hit. That's football.

by MTR (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 3:56pm

TBW, I just rewatched the hit on You Tube and I don't think it was clean. I think it was a defender trying to take a player out of the game. He clearly launched himself at the receiver's head. That he needed a little extra luck to actually accomplish it (the thigh) doesn't make it ok.

Why do you feel going after the knees is a worse act? Just as many careers have been ended by concussions and head injuries.

by morganja (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 4:18pm

It was a shot at the head in the same sense that 90% of all tackles are shots at the head. Look at other tackles. Defenders hit hard up high on the torso. That is the way defenders tackle people. Perhaps we should simply take tackling out of the game. It would certainly make it more offensive oriented.

There are plenty of cheap shots to make the cause celebre of this argument. This simply isn't the one. I sometimes wonder if this isn't a rhetorical device used by people who should know, ie Dr Z, in order to make a loud statement while deliberately undermining thier own argument so nothing becomes of it. Good argument, bad example.

by MTR (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 4:27pm

Re 27: I really do think that was a cheap shot. If Dr Z just wanted to rant about cheap hits he could pick any example he liked, so I'd say he genuinely thinks this was a cheap shot.

Whatever this was, it was not an ordinary tackle. Ordinary tackles do not involve jumping to hit the guy higher. Go look at the video on You Tube. The defender leaves his feet before the hit. The ball is in view so he knows he's early. Even the immediate reaction of the players on the field shows they didn't think it was a routine tackle.

by Dave (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 4:29pm

I guess I'm a McCree apologist in that it looked like he was trying to put a good lick on TJ, but the contact was mainly shoulder-to-shoulder. I'm not going to make the 'if he'd gotten there at the right time that'd be a highlight play' argument, because that's a stupid argument and I try not to make them.

What I will say is that hitting a guy as hard as you can hit him--versus wrapping him up and getting the sure tackle--is absolutely legal, and is a good way to separate a guy who has just caught a pass but hasn't tucked it away yet from the ball.

To everyone who says it's McCree's job to keep track of the ball: you're right. I didn't have a problem with PI, I wouldn't have had a problem with a personal if it'd been called, and I think he deserves a fine.

But there's a big difference between some kind of weakass Romanowskiesque hurt-a-guy move and a big lick intended to make someone drop a pass they don't have full possession of, and taking into account McCree doesn't have any kind of headhunter rep, I think this is the latter.

by morganja (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 4:39pm

If a receiver had just caught the ball than that is exactly where you would hit him. If you hit lower and wrap you are giving up the catch. If you hit up near the chest and arms, you have a very good chance of jarring the ball loose. Mcree has a rep as a fearsome hitter. He isn't the fastest guy around and isn't the most skilled at pass defense. If he wants to keep his job, he needs to lay the wood on ballcarriers. I hate cheap deliberate attempts to injure players. I think it is a disgusting, loathsome act that should result in banning from the league, not merely suspensions. I just think that this particular incident doesn't cross the line into that territory.

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 4:46pm

I'm a big Bengals fan, and I don't have a problem with the McCree hit (other than it was interference, for which he was rightly flagged.)

I very rarely have a problem with something which happens during the normal course of a game, which is why I also defended the Geathers hit on Trent Green on here (ie. I do have a problem with head-stamping, punching, kicks to the crotch etc).

#2: I completely agree. The worst hit I've seen this season, in terms of spirit/sportsmanship was Scott Fujita's dive into Steve Smith's knees on a play where the ball was nowhere near Smith and he was in the middle of running a route. I heard that Fujita claimed to have 'slipped', but this play was hugely suspicious. But, because Smith wasn't seriously hurt on the play (he did limp off for one play) nobody really talked about the incident. However, this hit could have absolutely ended his career instantly if he'd been unluckier.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 4:50pm

Here's the YouTube clip (click my name). It shows several replays, some slowed down and some real-time. I find it imposible to beleive that anyone can watch that and call that a cheapshot.

by MTR (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 4:54pm

morganja, I'm mostly repeating myself at this point, but there are two things I can't get around. One is how early it is. I don't buy the "if only it was later" argument. The same way it makes a difference if a hit comes after the whistle or after the QB has released the ball, it makes a difference here. The whole play was in front of the defender; I find it very hard to believe he didn't know he was early.

Second, if the defender had kept his feet on the ground and hit him in the chest. Instead, he made the very unnatural move of jumping up into the receiver - it looks to me like he chiefly got shoulder pad. Why would a defender jump up to make a tackle? Why would he hit shoulder pad instead of chest? While it's always dangerous to figure intent this looks very much like a cheap shot that just missed.

Dave, as I mentioned above the whole play is in front of the defender so I find it hard to believe he didn't know where the ball was.

by MTR (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 4:56pm

Wanker79, I had the exact opposite reaction - as I watched the clip I became more and more convinced it was a cheap shot.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 5:11pm

I'll save some time and summarize the thread. Everyone thinks Dr. Z Dierfdorf, etc. are making too big a deal out of this.

Except MTR, who is clearly a Bengals homer and thinks it was a crime against humanity and that McCree should be in prison or something.


by Dave (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 5:12pm

34: no answer to point 1. I can't argue that he wasn't early. He was. I think it's quite likely he lost sight of the ball; he was obviously playing the receiver. You might disagree.

point 2: why *wouldn't* he leave his feet? He had help if he missed, which is the argument for wrapping up and making the sure tackle.

We can agree to disagree about whether it's plausible that McCree lost track of the ball, but anyone watching the replay and calling this helmet-to-helmet by design is nuts in my opinion.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 5:13pm

Re: 35

I'm simply dumbfounded.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 5:20pm


He barely leaves the ground at all. If you think that was launching yourself, you clearly have not seen someone actually launch themself. He moves up for extra force on his last sride before the hit, a step that occurs very close to where the hit occurs. I don't even know what you are looking at. Go watch 50 other similar hits an tell me if you still think jumping up into the reciever is an "unnatural move". It is perfectly natural.

IT IS THE WAY YOU TRANSFER THE FORCE OF YOUR INERTIA INTO YOUR SHOULDER. Go play some hockey or football and you will understand.

Now if you have a problem with that hit there are probably a minimum of 10 hits a week you have a problem with. If not then perhaps you need to admit you are being a homer.

The hit was early, it deserved PI and possibly a PF (Can only enforce one penalty anyway). If the NFL wants to fine things like this fine, but they should do it consistantly.

What more do you want a hanging?

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 5:25pm

Re: 34

If this had been a hit on a QB with the exact same timing issue, this would have been a 15 roughing the passer penalty and that would have been the end of the story. There wouldn't be anybody writing entire columns screaming about how the NFL doesn't take saftey seriously. There wouldn't be people almost a week later still suggesting that it was a dirty hit and the player should have been suspended. It would have been a 15 yard penalty and life would have carried on. If, instead of the 18 PI penalty, McCree would have been given a 15 yard roughing penalty, would that have made you happier??

And Housh had already turned his body to make a play on the ball. It would have literally been physically impossible for McCree to hit him in the chest. Go back and watch the clip at 1:00 and you tell me how exactly he was supposed to hit him in the chest?!?

by scottnot (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 6:39pm

-drastically reduced life expectancy that many if not most players suffer -

Do you have empirical evidence of this? Not trying to call you out, but I've wondered about this every time I hear it. We've all seen Earl Cambell and O.J. suffer with knee problems, but that's completely different than lower life expectancy?

by TBW (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 6:48pm

Looking at it again, I don't think there is anyway TJ is even hurt by the first hit. He clearly gets hit on the side, around the shoulder, it was a hard hit that sent him sailing, but his head didn't snap back or anything like that. The injury was solely caused by the second collission with the other defenders thigh.

Re 39: Can't they enforce two penalties if one is a personal foul ? In the Eagles loss to Tampa didn't McDougle get nailed for a late hit and then nailed again for kicking the flag which was a personal foul.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 7:21pm

TBW (#42 )--

IIRC, only if one of the fouls is a dead-ball foul. Hitting the quarteback late and pile-driving him still only add up to one foul.

Hitting the quarterback late, then taunting while he's on the ground, would be separate fouls.

And kicking the flag is that nebulous "Unsportsmanlike Conduct" foul.

by Larry (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 8:51pm

I think it's a cheap shot. Why? Because in all my years of watching football, you almost never see a DB lay out a receiver like that so much ahead of the ball (I don't want to say never, but the play is surprising watching it because we all recognize how atypical a play it is). It's a deliberate choice to ignore the location of the ball and lay the guy out without regard for the consequences. This doesn't happen, because DBs know how to avoid it, here the player choses not to avoid it. The helmet-to-helmet or not isn't the point, its the complete lack of sporting respect for your opponent. That shouldn't be tolerated, and a petty fine is inadequate. I'm not sure an ejection would have been justified, but an extra flag (which probably couldn't be enforced as it wouldn't be dead-ball) and a stern lecture from the ref as well as a substantial fine would be more appropriate. In fact, perhaps a rule change allowing enforcement of live-ball unsportsmanlike penalties on top of other penalties might be a good idea to deal with this.

For comparison, it isn't entirely unlike stepping off the sideline and tackling a punt returner broken free. Sure, there's a penalty for that, 12 men on the field, but we all know it doesn't capture the true unsporting nature of the play. Similar deal here. The ref should have some discretion to handle the situation adequately as we allknow he would have in the punt return example.

by zip (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 9:37pm

Add me to the list of people who didn't think McCree's hit was a cheap shot. It's obvious that the damage was done by the 2nd defender. The whole thing is obviously unfortunate but I don't think McCree was trying to injure him based on where he made contact.

by RecoveringPackerFan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 10:22pm

I don't think that McCree was aiming for injury any more than the typical hit by a safety to break up a crossing pattern. That said, he should not have made the hit without knowing where the ball is. The principle that you are responsible for knowing the circumstances of the game is shared in all sports, although it can rarely be enforced by officials. Right enforcement on-field, but still an irresponsible play.

by Jerry (not verified) :: Sat, 11/18/2006 - 12:11am

Dr. Z in his mailbag column:

"I went upstairs and ran the play back. McCree took a straight ahead run at T.J., lowered his head and struck the receiver's helmet right about at the jaw line on the left side. The contact was by the crown of McCree's helmet. No shoulder involved. Why don't you hire yourself as a defense lawyer for this guy and try presenting your goofy evidence when the fine is levied?"

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Sat, 11/18/2006 - 1:01am

re 44: I'm not sure that this really is the same thing as a 12th guy coming off the sideline and tackling a returner, but for what its worth, the officials do have the discretion to award a TD in that situation if they feel the guy would have scored.

re 47: he must have taken some kind of hallucinogenic drugs before reviewing the tape.

by Tom (not verified) :: Sat, 11/18/2006 - 2:54am

Not to completely change the subject, but officials have no idea what a horse collar is. Alex Brown got a bad call on this a few weeks ago, and then Briggs got one against the Giants for pulling down Tiki Barber by his shoulder! He is probably going to get a $5000 dollar fine too, and he didn't do anything wrong. I'm all for player protection, but if the officals are going to be be completely arbitrary about this rule, I think it needs to be abolished. Or just called on Roy Williams.

by Becephalus (not verified) :: Sat, 11/18/2006 - 3:04am

Quotes like number 47 are exactly why eyewitness testimony is viewed with suspicion in counrt. People just see what they want to see.

by Richard (not verified) :: Sat, 11/18/2006 - 6:32am

I find if you watch the clip w/o listening to Dierdorf that it looks far less malicious. Dierdorf sounds like an idiot in that clip.

by Marko (not verified) :: Sat, 11/18/2006 - 1:33pm

49: Yeah, the horse collar penalty on Briggs was obviously a bad call, as Michaels and Madden said after showing the replay. Because it was obviously an incorrect call, I don't think the league will fine him. I'm pretty sure that whether a penalty is called or not is not the determining factor in whether a player gets fined. Players have been fined for cheap shots even when the game officials missed it and didn't call a penalty.

I taped the game and noticed something interesting about that penalty call when I watched it again. Shortly after the play, before any flag was thrown, you can see Ed Hochuli talking to someone and shaking his head while pointing to the over-the-shoulder area where Briggs tackled Tiki. So Hochuli appeared to see how the tackle was made. Then, several seconds later, Michaels announces that a flag was thrown late. So it appears that someone persuaded Hochuli that it was a horse collar tackle, even though Hochuli apparently saw otherwise.

In hindsight, I'm glad the penalty was called, even though it was a bad call. Those 15 yards ultimately helped set up the Giants for Feely's ill-fated 52 yard field goal attempt and Hester's 108 yard TD return, after which I exclaimed (in TMQ-like fashion) "Game over."

by morganja (not verified) :: Sat, 11/18/2006 - 4:25pm

I watched the play again in super slo-mo, going frame by frame. It is absolutely clear that Housh continues to resist arrest and struggle throughout the entire play.