Several Ravens fans have pointed out that, after Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff made like Gary Anderson late in the AFC title game, Pats defensive lineman Vince Wilfork removed his helmet in the field of play. And several Ravens fans wonder whether the maneuver should have resulted in a penalty that would have given the Ravens another shot at the failed field goal attempt.
The first name that first comes to mind in such situations? Dwayne Rudd.
In Week One of the 2002 season, the former Browns linebacker believed he’d tackled former Chiefs quarterback Trent Green, ending the game. Rudd celebrated by removing his helmet and throwing it. But Green had managed to lateral the ball to tackle John Tait, who carried it 28 yards to the Cleveland 25. The officials then moved the ball half the distance to the end zone, awarded the Chiefs an untimed down, and a 30-yard field goal from Morten Andersen (whose foot eventually won for Atlanta the game Gary Anderson blew for Minnesota) delivered the victory, 40-39.
Today, Wilfork’s helmet removal should have resulted in a penalty. But it wouldn’t have altered the outcome of the game.
“A post-possession foul, i.e. after the play is over, the penalty spot is enforced from the succeeding spot,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora told PFT by email. “So it would be half the distance to the goal, and Patriots football.”
In other words, the officials’ failure to penalize Wilfork for removing his helmet in the field of play had no impact on the outcome of the game. The field goal had been missed, the Pats had secured possession, and the infraction would have simply moved the Patriots from their own 22 to their own 11 for the final snap of the game.
That won’t make Ravens’ fans feel any better. But at least they shouldn’t feel any worse.