As MDS pointed out earlier in the afternoon, the Steelers are complaining about the Ravens’ use of illegal chop blocks.
But the Steelers, and folks like ESPN’s Merril Hoge, apparently don’t understand the chop block rule.
An illegal chop block doesn’t occur when, for example, the center engages the nose tackle and one or both of the guards block him low. Instead, an illegal chop block happens only when the offensive lineman delivering the low block was originally lined up more than one position away from the offensive lineman who initially has engaged the defender.
Here’s the official rule, which a league source has forwarded to PFT: “On a running play, A1, an offensive lineman, chops a defensive player after the defensive player has been engaged by A2 (high or low), and the initial alignment of A2 is more than one position away from A1. The rule applies only when the block occurs at a time when the flow of the play is clearly away from A1.”
And so, if the center hits a guy high and a tackle hits him low, it’s a penalty. When it’s a center and one of the two guards, the chop block is not illegal.
An argument could be made that the rules should be changed, for the same reason that some think the rule regarding low blocks against defensive backs in the open field should be adjusted. For now, however, the term “illegal chop block” has a definition far more narrow than the Steelers will either realize or admit.