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McAfee’s big hit on Holliday was legal

Pat McAfee AP

Last in the first quarter of Sunday night’s game between the Broncos and Colts, Indy kicked off to Denver and Trindon Holliday reeled off a 56-yard return.

The return ended when Pat McAfee applied a helmet-to-helmet to Holliday, flattening the diminutive return specialist.

McAfee’s hit was helmet to helmet, but no penalty was called.  And no fine should be imposed, for two reasons.

First, Holliday wasn’t defenseless, so he can be hit in the helmet/neck area and with a helmet.  Second, McAfee didn’t use the top of his helmet when hitting Holliday.

Here’s the video.  The new “crown of the helmet” rule applies only when the top of the helmet is used like a battering ram.  That didn’t happen.

No penalty for McAfee, and there should be no fine.

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22 Responses to “McAfee’s big hit on Holliday was legal”
  1. thestrategyexpert says: Oct 20, 2013 9:53 PM

    Well the loose theory would be that he was somewhat defenseless in that his route was clearly cut off and any way of contacting him was going to get the job done to get him out. And since he lowered his head and made first contact with a helmet-to-helmet shot, it just feels like the league would naturally want to fine that rather than allowing more opportunities to be available for players to have legal and potentially dangerous helmet-to-helmet initial contact shots.

    So indeed I can see how it can go without a fine, but will the NFL look at this specific play in the offseason and then make a new rule to say this is definitely illegal, or do they like these types of plays? I think they like to avoid them so it could be an interesting play to review down the road.

  2. getatmeplease says: Oct 20, 2013 9:55 PM

    Love that you had to make a post on this after Suh’s tweet called out the hypocrisy of the NFL. And he clowned you too.

  3. melikefootball says: Oct 20, 2013 9:56 PM

    Odd how it always comes down to defending a rule when as fans we have seen it called for less hit by helmet than that tackle in Colt game. It is bad rule in the name of safety, no matter called or not called it always can be explained for the why of call. I could just see how announcers of the game would crucify the replacements if they did not throw the flag on kicker hit. If Gödel had any sense he would truly look at how this is called so inconsistent by his contracted officials. Watch the Redskins game and see how many time Moose Johnson says it should be called to not be called.

  4. thestrategyexpert says: Oct 20, 2013 10:00 PM

    I’ll just make it simple for the NFL with this statement:

    “Helmet-to-helmet head bashing is totally fine so long as you received an A+ in Geometry”

  5. natigator says: Oct 20, 2013 10:00 PM

    They might as well say those penalties apply only to the defense. It’s fine for offense/special teams players to cut block, stiff arm/face mask, go helmet to helmet etc

    I’m sure RG3 would’ve gotten 15 yards out of that same hit

  6. koenig61 says: Oct 20, 2013 10:10 PM

    Oh of court that makes perfect sense when explaining all of these H2H hits in the NFL and their so called concern for safety. So it’s H2H unless the NFL say it isNt, or unless Merton hanks just wants to send a message, or it wasn’t egregious ? Clear as mud. Got it.

  7. delakern says: Oct 20, 2013 10:17 PM

    The antivirus

  8. elwaysmilehighdenver says: Oct 20, 2013 10:20 PM

    Kickers are exempt from penalties right?
    Terrible non call. Even worse when NBC tries to defend it. Helmet to helmet is helmet to helmet. It’s STILL a blow to the head. Once again totally inconsistent officiating. Not surprising that PFT supports it.

  9. luckfan1 says: Oct 20, 2013 10:24 PM

    Are you people serious, he didnt lead with his head at all. His facemask hit the other guys helmet, whats he supposed to do with his head when he makes a tackle, it is after all attached to his shoulders and unavoidable some times..

  10. koenig61 says: Oct 20, 2013 10:45 PM

    Luckfan1. I agree with you, but Google James Harrison’s hit on Bree’s, where James face mask hit Bree’s in the back, penalty, and fine ensued. It happens all of the time, but the officiating is inconsistent at best and worst of all is the NFL touting their concern about player safety. Sooner or later a defensive player on your team will have a border line hit, and it will be flagged possibly fined, and then just perhaps your favorite player will be the leagues next whipping boy, as suh and Harrison are.

  11. luckfan1 says: Oct 20, 2013 10:51 PM

    Koenig, I agree with you but maybe I am in the minority. Football is a contact sport and not every helmet to helmet is avoidable. H2H should never be a penalty unless the hitter leads with the crown of the helmet.

  12. raiderapologist says: Oct 20, 2013 10:52 PM

    elwaysmilehighdenver says: Oct 20, 2013 10:20 PM

    Kickers are exempt from penalties right?
    Terrible non call. Even worse when NBC tries to defend it. Helmet to helmet is helmet to helmet. It’s STILL a blow to the head. Once again totally inconsistent officiating. Not surprising that PFT supports it.
    —————–
    What isn’t surprising is you whining about penalties.

  13. koenig61 says: Oct 20, 2013 10:57 PM

    Luckfan1. No we are in complete agreement. A H2H should only be when a player rams with his head or launches. However that’s not how the refs are calling it, and that’s not how the NFL is fining defenders. Some incidental H2H are called penalties and fined, some aren’t. Some aren’t called, yet still fined. We are asking refs to determine a defenders intent on a moving target, and the refs and the NFL are falling miserably. Used to be I could watch a game and with in 80% reliability! know what would be called. Now I watch and wait for the flag.

  14. realitypolice says: Oct 20, 2013 11:46 PM

    You can explain it any way you want. You may even technically be right. I certainly don’t like the recent rash of ticky-tack foul calls so it doesn’t really bother me that no call was made.

    But the reason there was no flag thrown, and the reason that neither of the clowns in the booth ever even mentioned the possibility that the hit was illegal, is because it was made by the kicker.

    There is no way the officials could have done all of that hindsight analysis you did in the split second they had and as you are always so fond of pointing out, they are always told to “err on the side of caution”.

  15. taintedsaints2009 says: Oct 21, 2013 12:07 AM

    uh. it was in question?

    what are they going to call?

    unnecesary roughness on the kicker?

  16. croghan1919 says: Oct 21, 2013 1:20 AM

    He’s nickname is BOOMSTICK for a reason.
    The best ballin kicker since George Blanda.

  17. hess97 says: Oct 21, 2013 3:14 AM

    The rule clearly states that kickers, with the exception of Janikowski, can use what ever means possible to actually make a tackle.

  18. joetoronto says: Oct 21, 2013 3:41 AM

    Things didn’t go the Bronco’s way for once, call the friggin wambulance!

    SMH.

  19. cyraider says: Oct 21, 2013 6:28 AM

    Are you sure this isn’t a conspiracy? I mean, Peyton Manning is a Bronco, so I really feel like this should have been an ejection, or at least consecutive 15 yard penalties.

  20. bennyb82 says: Oct 21, 2013 8:00 AM

    They should make magnetic helmets that oppose each other…but I suppose that would be a pain in the neck.

  21. indypappaw says: Oct 21, 2013 9:10 AM

    I agree with those saying there was no intent, nor lead with the crown, so under todays rules this was a good no call. However, I also agree the NFL really needs more standardization and guidelines on these “up to interpretation rules”. As it is now it is driving the fans, and players, nuts.

    As an off topic side note, can you imagine the reception Holliday got on his sidelines? “Dude, you just got your clock cleaned….by a kicker!” Bet he does not live that down for a bit in the locker room.

  22. espnfeedback says: Oct 21, 2013 4:46 PM

    too often….
    depends on who is doing the hitting
    …and who is getting hit

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