With your permission, I’d like to vent for a moment.
I honestly can’t remember being as frustrated, angered, and just all-out dissatisfied with the NFL product as I am right now.
The seeds were probably sown last season, starting with the inexplicable pass interference call on Nickell Robey-Coleman in London that cost the Bills a huge comeback win over the Jaguars. It didn’t get any easier when the comedy of errors during the Monday Night Football matchup against New England ended with the Bills being denied an unlikely-but-deserved Hail Mary shot at the end of the game.
But this...man...this game...
and Richard Sherman...I mean, this guy...
You know what’s the worst thing about Sherman? He seems convinced that he is completely in the clear. ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia posted this quote from Sherman on the play:
"It wasn't a dirty play. I'm a pro. I've been in this league long enough. I know how hard it is to play. When you go for a block, that's what you do. You go for a block. Even if I was offsides, you still stop the play. You're not going to let him just kick the ball freely and let him have a free play. He could have made the decision not to kick the ball. He saw the flag before I did. He has a better vantage point than any of us."
Just to clear the air: yes, it was a dirty play.
I will concede that, yes, going for the block is okay in this instance. If Dan Carpenter had made the field goal, it would have counted anyway, so even if you’re offside you still need to go for the block.
What you don’t need to do is throw yourself into the kicker’s plant leg. In most blocking situations, players lead with their arms , and if they dive, they do so early enough that any contact with the kicker is going to be incidental and not dangerous. Jerry Hughes gave us a good example of this earlier in the game:
Now, yes, I know that was a punt, but the principle is the same. Moreover, blocked kicks that come from an edge rusher usually see the player dive in front of the kicker, giving the player a better chance to hit the ball in flight.
What Sherman did was not that:
You’ll notice that comes from Sherman’s own Twitter account. The man seems intent on selling the straw man argument; the fact that he touched the ball does not make barreling into the kicker’s knee with the full force of your body okay.
Of course, Sherman will have always have his enablers:
[whispers]— Brian Floyd (@BrianMFloyd) November 8, 2016
I don’t think Richard Sherman did anything wrong last night, even if he’s the easy one to be mad at https://t.co/r4PTMvqmEI
First of all:
YES. YES, HE DID DO SOMETHING WRONG.
Ok, now that that’s out of the way, the crux of his argument centers around Rule 12, Section 2, Article 10 of the NFL Rulebook, which defines roughing/running into the kicker. Mr. Floyd cites the first clause of the rule, which states that “No defensive player may run into or rough a kicker who kicks from behind the line unless such contact ... is incidental to and occurs after the defender has touched the kick in flight.”
Setting aside the fact that the kick was not in flight, the argument is that, because Sherman touched the ball, anything that came after is fine. According to Mr. Floyd, “That leaves us with ... nothing.”
No, no it doesn’t.
It leaves us with Rule 12, Section 2, Article 6, clause g of that same rule book. The one that governs unnecessary roughness. The pertinent clause here defines unnecessary roughness (among other things) as:
unnecessarily running, diving into, cutting, or throwing the body against or on a player who (1) is out of the play or (2) should not have reasonably anticipated such contact by an opponent, before or after the ball is dead;
Dean Blandino agrees:
At the end of the half in #BUFvsSEA its unnecessary roughness for hitting the kicker. Foul means he can stay in the game.— Dean Blandino (@DeanBlandino) November 8, 2016
If you want to argue that a kicker should reasonably expect a player to dive at their plant leg at any point during a kick, well, thanks for reading, Walt Anderson.
On that note, let’s move forward to the next cluster****:
Calling delay of game when the ref is still spotting the ball with 4 seconds on the play clock is ridiculous pic.twitter.com/K9PMTIS9vy— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) November 8, 2016
This is an officiating crew that the NFL deems acceptable. This crew, which has worked together before (including a Bills victory in Week 3 over the Cardinals that seemed to be well-officiated, if a bit looser than most crews), was preparing the players for the snap WITH FOUR SECONDS LEFT ON THE PLAY CLOCK!
Now, I could get past that if they admitted their mistake, reset the play clock, and let the teams reset. Did they do that?
Let me answer that with a story: in sixth-grade shop class (we called it “technology”, but whatever, it was shop), our final project was to make a memo book holder with hones for pencils or pens. The teacher insisted on doing a few things, including taking the four sides and nailing them together to make a frame. For one kid, he screwed it up and made his memo holder crooked. He then proceeded to fail the kid on the project because the memo holder was crooked.
That’s what this crew did. They made a mistake, and rather than owning and correcting it, they penalized the Bills and directly (yes, I said it, directly) led to a missed field goal.
That missed field goal led to the Bills being down by six, at the end of the game, after Tyrod Taylor committed the finest piece of quarterbacking I’ve ever seen from the man (but that’s a story for another day). I’m not going to harp on the final play; we already have a nice piece looking at that mess on the site.
To sum up my argument: Richard Sherman committed a dirty play, one that was largely caused by his inability to properly block a kick, and any gains that could have come from it were negated by a grossly incompetent officiating crew. To make matters worse, Sherman seems to think that what he did was okay, and that’ll probably lead to it happening again. Good thing the Bills and Seahawks won’t play again until 2020.
You know, I actually feel a little better now. Maybe it was the fact that I only slept for four hours, but I really needed to get that off my chest.
Thanks for listening.