During Sunday’s Bengals-Ravens game, Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs pulled down Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton by the inside of the back of the shoulder pads, and Dan Dierdorf, calling the game for CBS, said a penalty should have been called.
“That is a horse collar,” Dierdorf said. “He started with his hand in the shoulder pads of Andy Dalton. That could have easily been called a horse collar tackle by Suggs.”
But what Dierdorf didn’t know is that when a quarterback is in the pocket, a defensive player is allowed to pull him down by the inside of the back of the shoulder pads. So it wasn’t a penalty.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has been besieged this week by people asking him why a penalty wasn’t called — and questioning why he didn’t rip the ref a new one for failing to flag Suggs — and Lewis says he’s sick of it. And he blames Dierdorf for that.
“I had a zillion text messages saying that Andy Dalton got horse-collared on the last play,” Lewis said. “Well, there’s no such thing as a horse collar on a quarterback in the pocket. So there are some things that unfortunately even the announcers doing our games don’t know the ins and outs of the rules. They bring up the speculation on TV, and that causes the groundswell. We wish, for clarification purposes, everybody could understand the rules a little better.”
Lewis is right, although I’d add that the NFL could do a better job of explaining the rules: Too often the NFL’s explanations only add to the confusion. Lewis himself said he still wasn’t sure why a Jermaine Gresham touchdown in the same game was overturned, even after the ref explained it to him. So while the rule about horse-collar tackles on quarterbacks in the pocket is clear cut, the league could do more to clarify some of the murkier parts of the rulebook.