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Kiwanuka: Refs are “ridiculous” and “overboard” protecting QBs

Ryan Fitzpatrick,  Mathias Kiwanuka AP

Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka feels a little like Icarus heading into Super Bowl XLVI, knowing he can’t hit Tom Brady too high or too low. And he says the way the officials protect quarterbacks in the NFL is getting out of hand.

“I understand where it’s coming from, but the actual implementation of it, some of it’s just ridiculous,” Kiwanuka said today. “When you look at how quarterbacks are treated they can go overboard.”

Kiwanuka was careful to say that he realizes defensive players can’t go too far in drilling quarterbacks in the head, but he wishes officials wouldn’t go too far in flagging defensive players.

“I understand that too, but there has to be a fine line between grazing the side of someone’s helmet and actually trying to punch him in the head,” Kiwanuka said.

Asked whether he thinks during games about potentially getting penalized, Kiwanuka said he wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t.

“You have to at this point,” Kiwanuka said. “There’s only so much space where you can hit the quarterback and there’s only so many parts of your body that you can use. It’s something that, during the course of your career when you come from college to the NFL you have to make that adjustment. You have to learn what the rule changes are, and then a couple years in it just becomes second nature. For a guy that’s maybe a rookie or a second-year player, they’re probably still conscious about it, but by the time you get to your third, fourth, fifth, or sixth year, you just kind of understand and your body knows what to do.”

Ultimately, Kiwanuka knows what to do on Sunday, he said: “Play hard, play smart, and hit the quarterback.”

Just not too high, and not too low.

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52 Responses to “Kiwanuka: Refs are “ridiculous” and “overboard” protecting QBs”
  1. galbertkun says: Feb 2, 2012 1:47 PM

    Ed Hochuli: Why you mad?

  2. whatnojets says: Feb 2, 2012 1:50 PM

    Ask Deacon Jones what he thinks about the new rules protecting the quaterback. He said that they were taught to start from the head and work down. He also bought up a good topic….that maybe the kids start suffering fromconcussions already at high school and college level and they bring that condition into the NFL

  3. melikefootball says: Feb 2, 2012 1:51 PM

    He should have said they protect SOME QB’s

  4. tweeter75 says: Feb 2, 2012 1:52 PM

    Amen Mathias…..especially Brady. They’ve even changed rules for him after he got injured a few years back. I’d definitely be apprehensive when it comes to hitting a quarterback…especially Brady. But to disrupt Brday, you really don’t have to hit him that much. Just get up in his face and disrupt his timing. We saw in the AFC championship games what happens when he doesn’t have all day to stand in the pocket and throw to his two tight ends and slot receiver.

  5. tombradyswig says: Feb 2, 2012 1:52 PM

    don’t wrinkle toms dress either, that’d be good for 5 yds as well!

  6. sj39 says: Feb 2, 2012 1:55 PM

    Sadly, it also depends on who the QB is.

  7. rc33 says: Feb 2, 2012 1:55 PM

    Wow Mathias, imagine that.
    Complaining about QB’s might be overprotected in today’s NFL.
    Has this guy been living on the moon for 3 years?

  8. lance227 says: Feb 2, 2012 1:55 PM

    We’ve got #94 on the defense. 15 years. Roughing the Brady.

  9. senetor24 says: Feb 2, 2012 1:56 PM

    Can PFT make a rule and ban anyone that brings up their fantasy team in the comments section?

  10. hystoracle says: Feb 2, 2012 1:56 PM

    Well that wasn;t the best time to be complaining about officials. Just before the Superbowl against one of the highest regarded QB’s in the league? Kiwanuka can look forward to a little more laundry than usual while his Defense is on the field. Stupid. In the words of Torterella “Shut your Yap!”

  11. nesuperfan says: Feb 2, 2012 1:56 PM

    The refs just enforce the rules. Yes, some are stricter than others, but they are not ridiculous, it is the rule changes that are. I would love to go back to the pre-2005 days, when you could actually play defense.

  12. bifford64 says: Feb 2, 2012 2:00 PM

    I’ve never understood the complaints against the officials when the real culprit is the competition committee. The are the ones that make the rules and the points of emphasis each year. The officials are the ones that have to enforce it. Now, if officials are consistantly enforcing the rules incorrectly, they should be dealt with.

  13. thejuddstir says: Feb 2, 2012 2:02 PM

    The rules are quite simple really……if you’re name is Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, you can’t hit them period….but if you’re one of the other 30 starting QB’s in the NFL, you just can’t hit ‘em in the head or below the knees.

  14. tombradysbaby says: Feb 2, 2012 2:03 PM

    The NFL markets QBs. They are the face of their teams, and therefore the face of the NFL. Like it or not Kiwanuka players like Brady are why all the other players get a nice fat check.

  15. carmelaanthonysoprano says: Feb 2, 2012 2:06 PM

    How is the NFL going to make a billion dollars if Hoyer is starting?

  16. jkearse2005 says: Feb 2, 2012 2:07 PM

    Couldn’t agree more

  17. situsavaisprier says: Feb 2, 2012 2:09 PM

    More like “some of it’s just ridiculous” and “they can go overboard”, which changes the look of Kiwanuka’s response. having those words by themselves can make his response worse than it really was.

    I think he is correct. However, I would like to add in the words inconsistent. If they penalized Osi for his hit on Rodgers, then what happened to the hits on Eli by Bishop and Matthews?

    I think in general the NFL can go overboard regarding player safety. I understand the reason for it, but this is still football. At least call the penalties consistently if you have to call them.

  18. flapjackdaddy says: Feb 2, 2012 2:10 PM

    At this pace, the Superbowl will look like the probowl in 10 years.

  19. Mr. Wright 212 says: Feb 2, 2012 2:11 PM

    He’s right, but this is a non-issue. Refs are ridiculous and overboard/one-sided in calling ticky tack holding against one team and letting the other get away with BLATANT holding all game without a call.

  20. jkcranshaw says: Feb 2, 2012 2:15 PM

    Above the knee, below the neck and don’t lead with your head… how hard is that? Most of these QB’s with a few exceptions are all 6’3″ or better. That is a pretty big target.

  21. dickroy says: Feb 2, 2012 2:23 PM

    Be careful Kiwanuka. No matter where or how you it Brady, if he throws his hands up and looks at the Ref, you will be flagged.
    Brady is not Eli or Big Ben, he gets special attention from Refs.

  22. Mr. Wright 212 says: Feb 2, 2012 2:23 PM

    Eli doesn’t get those calls though, so I don’t wanna hear it.

  23. wideright91 says: Feb 2, 2012 2:27 PM

    Don’t forget Kiwanuka, you are not allowed to block the QB after he throws a pick either. Cost you 15. Just ask Drayton Florence about week 17.

  24. mjdkid100 says: Feb 2, 2012 2:27 PM

    FACT: Tom Brady received ONE roughing call on him the entire season. (bad call in the Redskins game)

    FACT: The competition committee makes the rules, not Roger Goddell or the Refs.

    I’m sure I’ll get thumbs down for some reason because most people on here don’t like to hear the truth.

  25. heisthejuan says: Feb 2, 2012 2:27 PM

    You guys would realize if you actually looked at the stats that Brady has gotten close to the fewest roughing the passer calls in the NFL over the past few seasons. Don’t let facts get in the way of your argument though.

  26. deadeye says: Feb 2, 2012 2:29 PM

    He’s right. But the problem is that the NFL has taylored itself into a high-flying, pass-happy league who’s main source of popularity is the QB. If the league allowed QBs to get creamed, and guys like Rodgers, Brady, and Manning were routinely missing games, the viewership (and profits) would go down.

    Kiwanuka doesn’t realize that he benefits financially from the popularity and health of the QBs.

  27. chrisexv6 says: Feb 2, 2012 2:30 PM

    @nesuperfan:

    yes, the refs just enforce the rules. But they need to be more consistent, more fair, and pay more attention than they already do.

    Does anyone in the world think Osi even came close to hitting Rodgers in the head? He got flagged for it, its not reviewable, and almost changed the outcome of an important playoff game.

    I dont mind protecting the QB….heck, thats what people pay to see: great QBs making great passes, but you need to be fair and consistent about how (and who!) you protect them. At some point it may come down to them wearing red shirts during actual games and not just practice.

  28. rc33 says: Feb 2, 2012 2:30 PM

    thejuddstir says: Feb 2, 2012 2:02 PM

    The rules are quite simple really……if you’re name is Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, you can’t hit them period….but if you’re one of the other 30 starting QB’s in the NFL, you just can’t hit ‘em in the head or below the knees.

    ———————————————-

    Was at a game not long ago where TJ Yates got a roughing call. Problem was, the replay showed he was never even touched.
    Please explain how that happened?
    TJ Yates?

  29. sean6886 says: Feb 2, 2012 2:33 PM

    No, they only go overboard making calls in Brady’s favor.

  30. patsfanforevah says: Feb 2, 2012 2:35 PM

    Ask Kiwanuka is he’s willing to play with the “illegal” crackback block. I bet he’s happy they’re protecting the defense. Wouldn’t want you to get your head handed to you by a little skinny WR.

  31. esdawt says: Feb 2, 2012 2:35 PM

    I don’t expect to see any called on Sunday with Brady involved unless it is egregious. Defenses facing the Patriots this year have had one Roughing the Passer penalty called all year.

  32. farmmbig says: Feb 2, 2012 2:39 PM

    There is a reason why we’re seeing explosions of QB statistics in recent years— These guys (especially the “super elite”) do not fear anything.

    Most of these guys can either ground the ball legally … and/or draw a Personal Foul when a finger grazes their helmet– On top of that, O-linemen for these “elite” QB’s are allowed to do anything necessary (especially holding) to protect the QB..

    I can understand the that rules are necessary to prevent dirty play— The problem I see is that rules are being set to prevent hard-nosed play… And that is where I agree with Kiwanuka.

  33. whoisgonnasing says: Feb 2, 2012 2:49 PM

    so true, just another lovely part of Goddell’s legacy…

  34. kellyb9 says: Feb 2, 2012 2:56 PM

    I’m a Pats fan, but I definitely agree with Kiwanuka to some extent. I’m fine with the low hit being a penalty. There’s simply too many reasons why you would want a rule like that. (Joe Theisman, Carson Palmer, Tom Brady, etc. jump out in my mind) I hate the hitting the helmet rule. Most guys do it unintentionally when they put their hands up trying to block the ball. That being said, the Pats usually seem to be on the wrong side of this penalty in recent memory. One roughing the passer penalty all year.

  35. bigbluenationdb says: Feb 2, 2012 2:58 PM

    I do agree with Kiwanuka in that you can’t sneeze on a QB without getting flagged. Every time Brady gets hit he looks directly at the ref hoping for a flag.

    I have noticed on thing in the playoffs the refs have let a little more go on hitting the QBs. The 49ers were pounding Eli and I think in the regular season some of those hits my have drawn a flag. I just don’t think in the Super Bowl unless it is a really late hit, blow to the head or in the knees will it get called.

    The ref need to let these men battle it out on the field and keep the flags in their pocket unless it is just an obvious call.

  36. shlort says: Feb 2, 2012 3:03 PM

    Kiwanuka needs to quit whining. The rules are in place to protect the most important players on the field. Look at the NFL teams who either lost their starters, or didnt have a good one in the first place. Those teams ended up playing to half empty stadiums and likely had a very low viewer ratings. People dont watch football to see if a DE or DT can manage to get a sack. People watch football for the Offense. Sure, some people like to watch for the Defense, but scoring is what the game is all about. Football games that end in a 7-3 score are boring to the average fan. Start letting Defensive players cripple Offensive players, and the NFL can start prepping for the yard sale and bunkruptcy.

  37. hedleykow says: Feb 2, 2012 3:05 PM

    One time it is okay to inadvertently slap the QB’s helmet, and the next time it is a 15 yard flag for looking at a QB’s helmet too hard.

    Sometimes I think the league puts these kinds of rules in place for the sole purpose of being able to control which team will win the game.

    The one thing that can’t be overcome, is crooked refs.

  38. goawayeverybody says: Feb 2, 2012 3:11 PM

    No, the refs are not going overboard in protecting quarterbacks, they are going overboard in protecting CERTAIN quarterbacks. They never protect folks like Ryan Fitzpatrick or Matt Moore or Tarvaris Jackson because those quarterbacks don’t rake in the big bucks like Tom Brady or Cam Newton for instance. If you so much as lay a pinky on Tom Brady or Cam Newton, you get flagged and fined.

  39. sjhesketh says: Feb 2, 2012 3:12 PM

    According to this page:
    http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/sorry-Michael-Vick-NFL-referees-do-not-play-favorites-092911

    Brady and Manning receive among the lowest roughing the passer calls in the entire league. Jason Campbell, of all people, received the most. This look was taken before the 2011 season began, so it does not take into account that Brady drew only 1 roughing the passer call all season long.

    The idea that Brady is somehow favored by the refs into getting more Roughing the Passer Calls has no basis in reality. People claiming such should be ignored. And then sterilized so the stupidity doesn’t spread.

  40. tb12eatitbitches says: Feb 2, 2012 3:15 PM

    Dam right sir, people don’t watch the nfl for Kiwinuka ( yea I spelt it wrong on purpose morons). Quite honestly ask to be traded to the Jets you belong there with all the wining you do. Eff the Giants.

  41. portnoychunk says: Feb 2, 2012 3:16 PM

    tweeter75 says: Feb 2, 2012 1:52 PM

    Amen Mathias…..especially Brady. They’ve even changed rules for him after he got injured a few years back. I’d definitely be apprehensive when it comes to hitting a quarterback…especially Brady. But to disrupt Brday, you really don’t have to hit him that much. Just get up in his face and disrupt his timing. We saw in the AFC championship games what happens when he doesn’t have all day to stand in the pocket and throw to his two tight ends and slot receiver.

    ^^^^^^^^^

    They did add the rule of hitting low due to Brady…but if it happened to Brees, Manning, Rodgers, etc. the same thing would have happened. NFL is protecting it’s product – QB’s are their biggest draws in large part.

    Brady also gets some of the fewest ‘roughing the passer’ among NFL QB’s….this was published after Vick complained he wasn’t getting the calls like Brady or Manning. So the argument that hitting Brady is more likely to draw a flag is uninformed.

  42. hawkforlife says: Feb 2, 2012 3:21 PM

    The refs without a doubt are a problem. When I hear commentators say that this crew is known for calling more holding than any other or more roughing or more pass interference than any other it drives me nuts. Aren’t the rules the rules. No crew should have any more calls than any other on avarage.

    As to Kiwanuka’s complaint, like any thing else there are reasons for action. Maybe if linebackers and defensive linemen hadn’t purposely smashed QB’s heads over the years they wouldn’t be in this position now.

    I bet he doesn’t complain when an offensive linemen is flagged for grabbing his facemask and pushing his head up and back.

  43. barryblogs says: Feb 2, 2012 3:22 PM

    Goes beyond the QB protection. Defensive players have to learn how to tackle properly again. Shoulder to chest and wrap the guy up. The whole thing got out of control with defenders launching themselves head first with intent to hurt QB’s and Wide Receivers. On the QB front, there are about 10 top QB’s who can really play at the NFL level, damn straight they should be protected.

  44. castleanthrax says: Feb 2, 2012 3:51 PM

    Those complaining about Brady regarding favortism are uninformed. If you look at the numbers he only had one this year and has the least of just about all QB’s going back a handful of years.

    Now the one he did get was crap as London Fletcher couldn’t avoid that hit.

    Now on the other hand do any of you knuckleheads recall how Dumervil hit Brady in Denver earlier this year?

    Hardest Brady has been hit, but that was a clean blast and subsequently Dumervil was not flagged.

    That was a text book tackle.

    However I agree with the overall spottiness on how the penalty is called as some of them are just flat out bogus, but so aren’t some PI calles, Holding calls, etc.

    Go out and play and play hard…

  45. harrisonhits2 says: Feb 2, 2012 3:56 PM

    Ah, the old “lets whine about the refs before the game and maybe they’ll let us make dirty hits” tactic.

    What I see is a lot of Giants players flapping their mouths and acting like they’ve already won the game and that playing it is a mere formality. Acting just like the Greatest Show On Turf did before SB 36.

    Meanwhile I see the Pats getting an extra day of practice over the Giants by coming a day early, and being primarily interested in preparing for the game.

    I like it. Keep talking Giants and not thinking about the game.

  46. wewantmoretebowandfavrearticles says: Feb 2, 2012 4:50 PM

    If anyone can whine about these rules, it’s Kiwi. He’s been trying to abide by them and hasn’t been in violation but it has cost his team. Kiwi and other defensive players constantly have to watch out for getting flags and that gets in the way of helping his team win. If you can recall some years ago, Kiwi was the one who was trying to sack Vince Young but he figured it’d be called forward progress and stopped on the play instead of driving the QB to the ground. This play COST his team a win but if he’d driven VY to the ground he might have been flagged. The grey areas put into the game by Goodell and the competition committee are truly ruining the game.

  47. ajgreenhof says: Feb 2, 2012 5:05 PM

    Agreed. Football is a physical game and it seems half the time the refs don’t even know that.

    When the refs are looked at as mor of an obstacle to winning the game rather then keeping the game fair its an issue.

  48. fogo4life says: Feb 2, 2012 5:25 PM

    While I personally couldn’t agree more with Kiwanuka…

    The refs have been incredibly inconsistent at best; discriminated against certain players and favoring star QBs at worst.

    However, until a NFLPA director steps up ton influence the competition commitee, the players have to live with the rules.

    Regardless, I certainly hope that a guy like Suh can develop that “2nd nature” instinct to aim at the midsection, using your shoulder/body to swap momentum (fancy physics description of a collision) over the next year or two.

    Word

  49. murabma says: Feb 2, 2012 5:31 PM

    For all those citing stats on Brady getting 1 roughing call this year, two thoughts:

    1. that stat tells only part of the story–for ex., how many times was he actually hit vs. other QB’s. I’d wager he takes less hits than average due to the New England line. One also needs to look at specific plays in prior years when without question he got the benefit of awful roughing calls. I watch a lot of Pats games, so I’ve seen it, as have others; and

    2. are you counting the atrocious call against Drayton Florence as well this year from Week 17? From comments above re: London Fletcher being the guy flagged, seems like you’re not, which calls into question what you’re counting (and thus, your argument along with it).

  50. rexryanstoecheese says: Feb 2, 2012 7:25 PM

    @murbma:
    In the time it took u to write that post u couldve looked it up yourself.

    @Mr – Sure does whine like a woman- Wright 212:
    Holding occurs on 99% of plays at the LOS. Do us all a favor, the next u feel compelled to WHINE – which no doubt already happened in the time it took me to peck out this post- do it about something valid and try to pretend you’ve got a clue about that which you post.

  51. dyims says: Feb 3, 2012 12:09 AM

    The so called fans on here that whine and complain about all the calls that Brady gets for roughing the QB have absolutely no clue about it. They listen to what is being said elsewhere or written by incompetent hacks and believe it to be the absolute truth. They don’t and won’t take the time to check the FACTS before posting their inane rants on whatever blog they happen to be on. Suck it up and move on. Try to be more of an adult rather than continue to be spoiled lil children. Off the soapbox for now.

  52. Mr. Wright 212 says: Feb 4, 2012 1:23 AM

    rexryanstoecheese says:
    Feb 2, 2012 7:25 PM
    @murbma:
    In the time it took u to write that post u couldve looked it up yourself.

    @Mr – Sure does whine like a woman- Wright 212:
    Holding occurs on 99% of plays at the LOS. Do us all a favor, the next u feel compelled to WHINE – which no doubt already happened in the time it took me to peck out this post- do it about something valid and try to pretend you’ve got a clue about that which you post.
    ————–

    You’re more obsessed with me than the broads who have stalked me over the years. Go play in traffic. The Patriots get away with holding — BLATANT holding, not the garden variety — than anyone not named New Orleans or Green Bay.

    Those are facts. You don’t like it, eat one. That’s your problem.

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