Late in the first half of Thursday night’s game between the Ravens and Falcons, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan dropped back to pass on third down and five. Finding no open receiver, he took off for the line to gain.
Close to the marker, he went into a slide. At the same time, Ravens safety Ed Reed closed in for a tackle.
Once Ryan slid, Reed dove over the quarterback. And Reed managed to jam an elbow into Ryan’s helmet.
Bob Papa of NFL Network astutely pointed out the maneuver. Joe Theismann argued that, in the pocket, the move would have drawn a flag. Papa reasoned that, once the quarterback is in the slide, it’s no different than being in the pocket.
At that point, Theismann and Matt Millen broke out the skirts-and-flag-football attitude. How, then, can anyone expect the NFL to be successful when it comes to promoting player safety when the guys who are hired by the league to broadcast games televised on the league-owned network cop the tough-guy attitude when clear violations of rules regarding safety occur?
Consider Rule 7, Section 4, Article 1(c)(1): “A defender must pull up when a runner begins a feet-first slide. That does not mean that all contact by a defender is illegal. If a defender has already committed himself, and the contact is unavoidable, it is not a foul unless the defender makes some other act, such as helmet-to-helmet contact or by driving his forearm into the head or neck area of the runner.”
It’ll be interesting to see whether the league office implicitly disagrees with Theismann and Millen by imposing a fine on Reed.