Two personal foul penalties called against the Eagles in Sunday’s win over the Colts have drawn a great deal of scrutiny, with many Eagles fans crying foul that hits on Austin Collie and Peyton Manning of the Colts drew flags.
NFL V.P. of officiating Carl Johnson, however, says that he’s comfortable with his officials throwing flags on both plays in question.
In the most-discussed hit of this week in the NFL, Eagles safety Quintin Mikell hit Collie with a hard but legal shot to the midsection, and then Eagles defensive back Kurt Coleman collided with Collie, helmet-to-helmet. The NFL decided not to fine Coleman because Mikell’s legal hit redirected Collie into Coleman. But Johnson said that doesn’t mean his officials were wrong to throw the flag.
“Our officials are instructed to err on the side of safety,” Johnson said on NFL Network’s Total Access. “Our number one priority is player safety and when we make calls on the field we don’t determine what discipline may follow.”
Late in the fourth quarter, Trent Cole’s hand hit the back of Manning’s helmet in what seemed to be a fairly minor shot to the head. But Johnson said 15-yard penalties are called for even in minor cases of contact with the helmet.
“That 15-yard penalty is a strong deterrent,” Johnson said. “We want to do everything possible to protect our players. . . . We want them to lower their target. I know he’s trying to strip the ball, but we can’t officiate intent. When they swing and make contact to the head, especially with a quarterback in the pocket looking downfield, it is a foul. It will draw a flag.”
So that’s the official word from the boss of all the NFL officials. I have a feeling Eagles fans won’t be satisfied.