Blandino says Shazier hit was not a violation

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Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier was neither flagged nor fined for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Bengals running back Gio Bernard in the wild-card round. NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino has now explained that the outcome was the proper one.

As noted previously, the Bernard had caught the ball and became a runner before being hit by Shazier. Thus, Bernard wasn’t defenseless. Runners who aren’t defenseless can be hit in the helmet, and with the helmet.

Regarding the 2013 rule preventing hits with the crown of the helmet, Blandino explained in a weekly officiating video that the play lacked the key element of the player “lining up” the opponent. Blandino said that, because the players were moving at different angles, Shazier wasn’t able to “line up” Bernard.

But Blandino also said that the league wants to discourage the use of the top of the helmet, hinting that an expansion of the rule could be coming. For now, the rule as written was applied properly to Shazier — no foul, and no fine.

82 responses to “Blandino says Shazier hit was not a violation

  1. ARTICLE 8. INITIATING CONTACT WITH THE CROWN OF THE HELMET. It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul.

    Where does that say anything about lining up?

  2. Just admit they missed the call. Shazier is lucky he didn’t get hurt. That is not the way we teach 5th graders how to tackle. Spearing is ILLEGAL!!!

  3. O but Bryant was defenseless when he took 3 steps, when the Bengals DB blasted him in his shoulder pads and not in the helmet or with his helmet?

    gimme a break. One set of rules for the cheap shot Steelers and the rules for the teams playing the Steelers

  4. Yeah right….so if he established himself as a runner, you can’t tell me he didn’t line him up and drill him with his helmet. This guys a fool, but what can you expect from a guy that can’t tell what a catch is either…..

  5. Of course he couldn’t line up? How would that be possible while looking at the ground with your head down, leading with his helmet?!? Duh! Haha

  6. Bengals got robbed. Porter shoukd have been flagged when pacman was and had offsetting penalties. When the steelers arent whining, or taking hgh, they are getting all the calls from the refs

  7. bengalsfan2079 says:
    Jan 15, 2016 7:07 PM
    ARTICLE 8. INITIATING CONTACT WITH THE CROWN OF THE HELMET. It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul.

    Where does that say anything about lining up?

    ________________________________________

    The hit was 1.5 yards in front of the line of scrimmage, thus within the “tackle box”.

  8. Who cares, game is long over and its time to move on. Both teams had questionable calls against them, happens every Sunday in the NFL. Steelers won, Bangles lost… as usual in the playoffs. Time to move on, its over.

  9. On top of botching the fumble return TD, Ben also wouldn’t have suffered the sack that injured him.

    Also I trust a rules expert more then homers, haters, and trolls.

  10. What happened to the guy that hit Shazier so hard that his eyebrows flew off of his head? Did he get fined?

  11. By that definition, then the targeting call against the Bengal’s shouldn’t have been called either, as the receiver clearly saw the hit coming before it happened and it was with the shoulder, not the crown of the helmet as was the case with Shazier. Not that it matters now.

  12. Some of these Bengals fans have it correct. There is a huge conspiracy to keep the Bengals from winning playoff games. It’s all part a master plan. Their loss was rigged. The penalties had nothing to do with earned fouls. They played a flawless honest game and the league ripped it away. It’s not the Bengals fault they couldn’t run the ball, it’s not their fault they couldn’t stop a 3rd and 4th string running back. It’s not Hill’s fault that he fumbled when all they had to do was run out the clock. It’s not their fault that some of their players let their emotions get the best of them. It’s not Burfect’s fault he made an illegal hit on a defenseless receiver, it’s not pacman’s fault he put his hands on a referee. It’s all just part of the plan to keep the Bengals down.

  13. Disclaimer: I was rooting for the Steelers that game.
    I LOVED watching Shaziers hit. Just blew up the RB. Too bad they took Shaziers TD away from him.

    As for Blandino explanation, that smells bad.
    By his logic, given the speed that players run, when are they ever going to have time to “line up” an opponent?
    The only way that’s possible is if two players run straight at each other from a long distance. When does that ever happen?
    What was the original intent of this rule?
    Is this rule serving it’s purpose? Not with interpretations like Blandinos.

    Either get rid of these types of rules that are rarely enforced, or make player safety a real issue and make the rule broader.

    PS – Its a BS rule and came about because a RB (Trent Richardson) pancaked a safety (Kurt Coleman).
    When a safety gets run over by a RB in the backfield – he’s not doing his job. You are paid to tackle and save a TD. If you can’t do it, then sit and let someone else play.

    >>Regarding the 2013 rule preventing hits with the crown of the helmet, Blandino explained in a weekly officiating video that the play lacked the key element of the player “lining up” the opponent. Blandino said that, because the players were moving at different angles, Shazier wasn’t able to “line up” Bernard.

  14. A replay on Deadspin shows the endzone view if you let it run long enough. Someone tell me with a straight face that Shazier doesn’t ‘line him up’. Not that the rule says anything about that. You have to line him up before you put your head down to hit him with the top of the helmet, which is what Shazier did. Another example of CYA by Blandino.

  15. “Where does that say anything about lining up?”

    EXACTLY. It doesn’t say that anywhere, and the play should’ve been flagged according to the rule as it currently is written.

    When the league’s own head of officiating adds his own interpretation of the rule, instead of enforcing it as it is written, something is very wrong.

  16. I thought it was not a cheap shot or a tackle that deserved a fine or
    a flag. It was a quick play where Shazier came in low but caught the
    helmet to helmet at last second. The NFL has attempted to limit
    the top of crown hits but it starts at the beginning. I hope the NFL
    does not try to further the rule ….most players have complied with the
    new rules ….its the quick play where it occasionally happens. We
    do not need Goodell and company further legislating what is a good tackle vs a cheap shot.

  17. coltcountrysteelerfan says:
    Jan 15, 2016 7:32 PM

    Also I trust a rules expert more then homers, haters, and trolls.
    —————————————————-
    I wouldn’t trust ANYBODY in the NFL offices!! Especially when they can’t even determine what is a catch! Guessing now it’s ok to LAUNCH oneself helmet to helmet! Since Goodfellas” hiring this league has gone down the toilet.

  18. O but Bryant was defenseless when he took 3 steps, when the Bengals DB blasted him in his shoulder pads and not in the helmet or with his helmet?

    That’s what I’ve been screaming about!! Look, I don’t have a dog in this fight, and it’s not the individual calls, it’s the inconsistency of the calls. Just like in baseball…it’s not that the umpire has a wide strike zone as long as he calls it consistently all game for both teams.

    I don’t care if they didn’t want to flag the Steelers for any of the hits in question…I agree they weren’t fouls…but neither was the hit the Bengals DB laid on Bryant. In fact, that is the text book example of what the league is looking for in those types of hits. He didn’t aim for his head and he hit him with his shoulder pad and he wasn’t defenseless.

    Officials, just be consistent!!!!!!

  19. Of course Shazier’s hit wasn’t flagged when it clearly should have been: he plays for the league’s “golden franchise”, the Pittsburgh Steelers (with heavy emphasis on the Pitts).

  20. Shazier’s our guy and a great player. The hit was legal by rule. But if the league is serious about preventing head injuries, they should stop parsing. It doesn’t matter whether a player is a “defenseless receiver” or has become a runner. It doesn’t matter whether the defender has “lined up” his target. No one should be hitting with the crown of the helmet. It’s dangerous for the person being hit and for the person inflicting the hit. Shazier could just as easily have suffered a concussion himself on that play.

    Change the rule.

  21. Why even bothering to question the referees, the league will always side with the ref’s. The people in the replay booth are as idiotic as the ref’s on the field in making calls. Blandino is nothing but a shill for the league.

  22. Steelers fan…the rule needs to be changed obviously, gsuutw protect both players!! And also, try to hit with the shoulder. If he hits him with helmet face, it should not be a penalty, regardless of the outcome.

  23. I’ve been trying to explain this to knowledge-lacking Bengals fans all week.

    1. Bernard’s head is completely and 100 percent visible at all times, so there is no chance of helmet to helmet here.

    2. Shazier ducks his head, but if you bother to follow the replay (there’s a novel thought!) you’ll see he actually contacts Bernard with his shoulder — the head is to the left of Bernard. There IS no contact with the crown of the helmet. It’s just the force of the blow that rocks Bernard back. It’s completely clean, despite the wrong opinion Bengals fans cling to.

    Does Blandino care to comment on why Shazier wasn’t awarded a touchdown here? That’s what we should be getting all up in a lather over…

  24. dwilkinson1968 says:
    Jan 15, 2016 8:39 PM
    Of course Shazier’s hit wasn’t flagged when it clearly should have been: he plays for the league’s “golden franchise”, the Pittsburgh Steelers (with heavy emphasis on the Pitts).

    Do you cry this much everyday? or just on Fridays???

  25. pw1265 says:
    Jan 15, 2016 8:51 PM

    There ya go!
    Now will the Ben-gals fans stop whining and stop getting their panties in a bunch!!!???
    —-
    Not a Bengals fan, just know what I saw, a game where the officiating egregiously favored the Steelers. Primarily by non-calls than calls made. Not that the Bengals didn’t earn their share however.

  26. @ampats ….you see things they way you want them to be. The refs missed the call. Don’t be a moron your whole life.

  27. I can’t stand the Steelers but listening to all of the Bengals whiners is sad and pathetic. Let it go, two of your best defensive players completely lost control and desperately grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory. It was both sad and extremely entertaining, deal with it…

  28. The Shazier hit was 20 times worse the Brown taking a little pop to the head by a shoulder! Ref’s really REALLY missed that one!! Shazier could have killed that kid!

  29. Shazier suffers from alopecia, an autoimmune disease which causes the inability to grow hair. How about doing some research instead of being an idiot.

  30. It’s comically false to say the rule as written was applied correctly. Maybe the refs had received guidance not to apply the rule as written but as written the rule clearly forbids the hit delivered by Shazier (and wisely too for player safety). The refs blew the call and should have flagged a deliberate hit delivered with the crown of the helmet. The league has been cracking down on that since at least Chuck Cecil.

  31. Dear ding dong who said “The hit was 1.5 yards in front of the line of scrimmage, thus within the “tackle box”.”

    The distance from the line of scrimmage has nothing to do with the “tackle box.” Mostly has to do with the QB rules for grounding. In fact, rules regarding the crown of the helmet have to do with this being outside of the tackle box (as of 3 or so years ago) and mostly pertained at the time to the Running Back lowering his head into the linebacker. Thus, leading with the crown of your helmet outside the tackle box (whether you are the ball carrier or the defender) is illegal. That is the rule – I am not passing judgement on this hit itself.

    The issue with this game in general is it has turned the uneducated masses into refereeing geniuses. Can we all just admit that each fan base has bias…. plus…. most people don’t understand the rules? I don’t blame them… they are freaking confusing…. but just admit that you don’t and lets move on.

  32. Even if there wasn’t a violation, it takes a special kind of jerk to dance at midfield with teammates while the person he KOd is getting tending to by Doctors.

  33. Good Lord. Blandino is a stooge, and the perfect lackey for Goodell– blind, arrogant, AND largely incompetent. If the Not-so-great Blandeano keeps making stuff up on the fly to cover for his crews’ failures, he’s eventually going to make it impossible for anyone to properly officiate a game. The rules need to be simpler and clearer– he is instead making them more complicated and UN-clear, and he keeps moving the goalposts in the process.

    I wonder if the owners really think this junk can go on forever? Take note, billionaires– these shenanigans aren’t doing anything to help put backsides in seats going forward. You want more stadiums selling out? You’d be extremely well served to cough up a few bucks, and hire permanent, full-time officials– and someone capable to run the program. These hacks you got now are killing you, and all the rest of us as well. Fix it!

  34. Blandino is terrible. Making up rules to explain things away. This is not as egregious but the post-game covering by the league for some really poor calls to try to lend legitimacy to the outcome is very remeniscent of The Tuck Rule game. After Walt Coleman overturned that play he said “The quarterback ‘ s arm was moving forward” never anything to suggest something called “The Tuck Rule” which was shamelessly trotted out by the league afterward.
    Worst part is … most fans buy this stuff. LOL.
    But really the worst call of this game was deciding it with the flag on Pacman while turning a blind eye to Joey Porter.

  35. Refs gave the steelers a SB victory against the Hawks a few years ago. Dirtiest, classless team in NFL protected by roger because he bows to the Rooneys.

  36. How funny it is that the once proud and tough Steelers and their wimpy fans are now sissies who have nightmares about Vontaze Burfict, bitterly complaing about how Burfict took out three of the Steelers’ stars all by himself.

    And yet the sissy Steelers and their sissy fans pound their chests over the helmet to helmet hit Shazier had on runnubg back who was turning and didn’t see Shazier coming.

    As for Blandino, no one expects him to tell the truth after all of these years where the NFL has given favorable call after call to give the Steelers their tainted championships as well as hide their systematic cheating and their illegal steroid abuse.

  37. Not a Bengals fan, but that was a spear. I just rewatched the replay like ampatsisahypocrite said I should, and while his helmet does hit his shoulder pad like he said, it only does so after it smashes into his facemask then slides off and into his shoulder as Bernards head is snapping back.

    The rule as written says nothing about lining up, he clearly lowered his head to hit him with the crown. This is a penalty and should have been called. Porter also should have been called before he riled up Pacman, so that should have been offsetting. It was a dirty hit by Burfict intending to injure, maybe not exactly illegal within the rules, but that will be called most anytime you’re not a Steeler and the Bengals know it.

    The Steelers got a gift from the refs, but the Bengals did plenty of their own stupid stuff and made it too easy for the Refs to give it to them.

  38. If it makes you Bengals fans feel better, your team did virtually eliminate the Steelers from the playoffs, it’ll just take 60 minutes longer than you wanted.

    I can’t see the Steelers putting up more points on offense then the Denver Defense will out up off them, doesn’t matter who the Denver QB is.

  39. “The hit was 1.5 yards in front of the line of scrimmage, thus within the “tackle box”.”

    Yes, but the hit was outside the two tackles, thus outside the “tackle box”. The ‘and’ in the rule means something, after all.

    By the letter of the quoted rule, Shazier’s was an illegal hit. Nobody’s been able to explain – using the written rules – how the hit is legal. No rule contains “lining up” or “hits to the head, with the head, are a-okay” that anybody’s yet shown.

  40. Profootballtalk article on the new rule from August 6th 2013.

    “The first rule change prohibits a runner or tackler from initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmet outside the tackle box,” the video’s narrator says. “There are three components to this foul: First, the player must line up his opponent. Second, he must lower his head. And third, he must deliver a forcible blow with the crown of his helmet to any part of his opponent’s body. The crown is the very top of the helmet. This rule was designed not only to protect the player receiving the blow, but also the player delivering it. Violations of this rule will result in 15-yard penalties for unnecessary roughness, and potential discipline. If the contact occurs in the tackle box, or if all three components are not present, there is no foul”

    Looks like it says the player must line the other player up….

  41. Wow – these Bengals fans are just too much – you had the game. It was all yours – the game was OVER when Burfict intercepted – your boys just couldn’t do it. Just get over it. YOU LOST!

  42. mrloser44 (no comment): “I trust a rules expert?”. Thanks for the chuckle! Must be a family member because NO ONE has ever called Baghdad Bob anything but a bungling fool who defends the referees, despite the fact that everyone else can clearly see that they are incompetent by watching any game in living color!

  43. legal hit.. fine, this should be changed to an illegal hit. if the NFL is saving face on concussions and brain injuries. The hit was devastating and the current rules of the NFL are set for personal interpretation for Refs, Fans, and players to know whats legal and whats not. A recipe for disasters, such as what is a catch and pass interference. I personally did care who won or lost in this game but if Shazier’s hit came from his shoulder pad rather than the helmet there would be no discussion here.

  44. What Mike isn’t telling is that Blandino had also said that the Bryant touchdown shouldn’t have been ruled a catch.

  45. You’ve apparently been lying to Bengal fans all week too.

    At the point of initial contact. Shazier’s helmet is down, ie he is leading with the crown of his helmet, and with his helmet, he hit’s Bernard’s helmet. You can see Bernard’s helmet twist violently from the contact.

    How you can sit there and blithely type away about how there wasn’t any contact with the helmet is beyond me.

  46. I’ve said this before. I don’t think any of you realize, as you sit on your couch and watch these plays in slow motion replay, how fast this game actually is, and how quickly plays and hits unfold. You want players to plan where to put their head while delivering a hit on a target that is moving in less than a second. Good luck. Also, I want sown one to show me how to run WITHOUT leading with their head.

  47. I know that most here don’t care what really happened, not if it means hating on Steelers…and Buckeyes … but the RUNNER put his helmet in the path of Shazier. Watch the video. Shazier was headed in the RUNNER’s direction already when the runner turned into the path of Shazier. Why you guys would want defender’s flagged in that situation is due to one reason only…he’s a Steeler…well and a former Buckeye. This is very similar to all the stupid times people call defenders from other teams dirty or cry for helmet to helmet flags when a ball carrier ducks into the tackle and the helmets make contact . Often, as in the case with Gio, the carrier is the one who caused the impact.

    You guys want this insane NFL. Well, now you got it. And you still are without many injured QBs, RBs, and other great players. You made a deal with the devil. Enjoy.

  48. So let me get this right….changing angles and player movement matters on Bernard play but not a defenseless receiver play? Not to mention the fact that shazier knew what he was doing and clearly lined him up. They should all fire themselves.

  49. How the review of the Bryant TD did not get reversed is amazing to me. If you watch it slow-mo, which I’m sure the review did, he actually loses possession during the catch and once he pins it to his leg he only gets one foot down.
    The Shazier hit would have been flagged for every other team except the Packers.
    The non-flag for Porter is just unbelievable. Only the Steelers and Packers could get away with that.

  50. As a neutral Bills fans watching an intense rivalry, the hit might have been “legal” but the classless dancing on the sideline which happened three different times was ridiculous.

    Having watch the greats over the last 40+ years, not one of the HOF players celebrated the demise of another professional!!!

    Injuries happen in this awesome game, classless behavior is never part of he game. Fine him for those actions just like other non-football related fines such as dress code, vulgar acts, or what’s already on the books behavior unbecoming to the NFL

  51. To the fools that think Shazier was dancing because the guy he hit was hurt, get to your local book store and buy a copy of Football for Dummies. You sound like idiots trying to make this an issue. Shazier was dancing because hit had a big hit (legal), caused a fumble, recovered the fumble, and scored a TD (wrongfully taken away). That’s all fools.

  52. I find it hilarious the very first comment on this thread comes from a supporter of the biggest cheating team in all of sports….. Squealers? Are you 10 years old?

  53. Blandumbo doesn’t know the rules, it’s obvious from all the what is a catch and what is not. The rule clearly stats that contact with the crown of the helmet is illegal. But if you read the fine print it says it depends on the team committing the foul.

  54. Wow… it took him almost a full week to find some lame technicality to let him off the hook. The dude may have had opportunity to look in the right direction, but part 2 of that rule is he has to have time to react and protect himself… which he cleary didn’t

  55. Modern day head hunters are ruining our national pastime. Zac Thomas used to knock players out with clean hits.

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