The final play of Sunday’s wild-card game between the Packers and the Cardinals featured what appeared to be both a facemask and a roughing the passer penalty that escaped the scrutiny of the officials.
On his weekly “Official Review” segment on NFL Network’s Total Access, V.P. of officiating Mike Pereira said that no flag should have been thrown.
Though we typically applaud Pereira for his candor when acknowledging officiating errors, we can’t help but wonder after listening to his explanation whether we’re talking about the same play.
Rule 12, Section 2, Article 5 of the NFL official rules states that “[n]o player shall twist,
turn, or pull the facemask of an opponent in any direction.”
The video shows that Cardinals defensive back Mike Adams pulled the facemask of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Pereira, however, said there was no tugging or pulling.
(Watch the video and post your own thoughts below.)
There’s another issue with the play that Pereira doesn’t address. Rule 12, Section 2, Article 13(3) plainly states that defenders may not
“use hands, arms, or other parts of the body to hit
the passer in the head, neck, or face.”
So while the contact between Adams’ hand and Rodgers’ facemask possibly might have avoided scrutiny (somehow) under Rule 12, Section 2, Article 5 if Rodgers were running with the ball, there’s no way around Rule 12, Section 2, Article 13(3) when the guy wearing the helmet in question is a passer.
Thus, regardless of whether Adams pulled Rodgers’ facemask (he did), Adams struck Rodgers in the face.
Either way, then, a flag should have been thrown. And a flag might have been thrown if referee Scott Green weren’t obsessed at the time with the niceties of the tuck rule, which wasn’t an issue on the play because the ball never struck the ground.
It’s another reason, as Rich Eisen recommends, to get rid of the tuck rule.