In his weekly “Official Review” segment on NFL Network’s Total Access, V.P. of officiating Mike Pereira addressed the recent controversy regarding the protection of quarterbacks.
The video can be seen right here on NFL.com.
The issue hit the front burner after Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis sounded off following Sunday’s loss to the Patriots, based on multiple flags thrown against Baltimore for hits on New England quarterback Tom Brady.
Pereira calls the matter a judgment call on the part of the officials, and that the officials are told to err on the side of protecting the passer.
“I will support that,” Pereira said, “because we have set a target for players [when hitting quarterbacks], and that target essentially is below the neck and above the knees. And when that area gets challenged, when there is contact below the knees, that’s something we are going to support because we want players in the game.”
Pereira also mentioned that there are rules protecting defensive players against unnecessary knee and head injuries, too.
As to the argument that the flags were thrown in the Ravens-Patriots game because of Tom Brady’s reputation and accomplishments, Pereira called the notion “ludicrous.”
But Pereira also conceded that several other quarterback hits over the weekend should have resulted in penalties, a point that ESPN capably has made multiple times this week. (And there’s no sarcasm there — they’ve done a great job of showing video of quarterback hits in other games that didn’t draw penalties.)
Though we’re still troubled by the fact that Panthers defensive tackle Damione Lewis ran across the goal line to dive on Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb in Week One, the difference is that McNabb was a runner at that time, not a passer. (Still, the hit was extremely late and should have drawn a flag and a fine.)
Passers are acting against every self-preservation instinct by standing in a swirling mass of large men, some of whom are trying desperately to hit him and some of whom are trying to protect him. To be effective, the passer must be able to have a certain amount of confidence that he won’t be hit too low or too high and that, if he is, his team will derive a 15-yard advantage for the trouble.