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I've got a question about illegal hits to a defenseless receiver:

Last night on MNF a Chief's receiver was leveled on a pass thrown behind him by a NE zone defender, the receiver tipped the ball just prior to the hit, close so no late hit, and the ball was subsequently intercepted. The defender did not make helmet to helmet contact; however he did launch himself and did hit the receiver in the head with his shoulder pads and upper arm and the receiver was about as defenseless as a receiver can get having still been in the action of moving forward while still in the act of reaching back. It was as violent a hit to the head as what I've seen regularly called this season.

I'm not a fan of either team so it isn't complaining, just wondering because the launching at a defenseless receiver doesn't seem like a very clear rule. It was a big non-call because thatís the point NE took over the game and would have resulted in a KC first down in NE territory.

Question is: is there a reason it wasn't flagged? Like, no helmet to helmet or the ball was tipped and at the point of the hit the ball was no longer catchable?

Secondly, is there a germane difference in the defenseless receiver rule in NCAA or High School football?

Posted on 11/22 11:56 AM | IP: Logged

Normally, launching one's self and making contact above the shoulders woul draw a flag in the NFL. Not sure how the pass being tipped affects the play.

The NFHS addresses a defenseless receiver as well as other defenseless players in the Case Book.

9.4.3 COMMENT: Is there suggested guidance on what is meant by a defenseless player who should be protected from unnecessary roughness? Yes, defenseless players are especially vulnerable to potential injury. Game officials must diligently observe safety rules and watch for contact against players who are deemed defenseless such as: (a) A quarterback moving down the line of scrimmage who has handed or pitched the ball to a teammate, and then makes no attempt to participate further in the play; (b) A kicker who is in the act of kicking the ball, or who has not had a reasonable amount of time to regain his balance after the kick; (c) A passer who is in the act of throwing the ball, or who has not had a reasonable length of time to participate in the play again after releasing the ball; (d) A pass receiver whose concentration is on the ball and the contact by the defender is unrelated to attempting to catch the ball; (e) A pass receiver who has clearly relaxed when he has missed the pass or feels he can no longer catch; (f) A kick receiver whose attention is on the downward flight of the ball; (g) A kick receiver who has just touched the ball; (h) Any player who has relaxed once the ball has become dead; and (i) Any player who is obviously out of the play. The game official must draw distinction between contact necessary to make a legal block or tackle, and that which targets defenseless players.

Posted on 11/24 7:16 AM | IP: Logged

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