After 82 games with no issues regarding the new rule preventing forcible contact against an opponent with the crown of the helmet, the new standard came up three times on Sunday.
In the game between Washington and Green Bay, Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather was involved in a pair of hits potentially implicating the rule. Per a league source, the first one — on Packers running back Eddie Lacy — probably should have drawn a flag. The only open question is whether Meriweather lined Lacy up for a hit with the top of the helmet.
The league office will review the coaching film, and a fine could be issued. Also, the officials who failed to throw a flag could end up being downgraded.
As to the second hit involving Meriweather — on Packers running back James Starks — the officials made an appropriate non-call. Per the source, Meriweather did not make contact with the top of his helmet. Instead, Meriweather hit Starks in the helmet with the side of Meriweather’s helmet.
The fact that Meriweather left the game with an apparent concussion demonstrates why the league passed the rule. It’s aimed as much at protecting players from themselves as it is at protecting players from other players. Still, Meriweather in this specific case didn’t violate the new rule.
Finally, a hit by Titans running back Jackie Battler on Texans safety Danieal Manning had all the elements of a violation. Per the source, however, the impact didn’t clearly happen outside the tackle box. At four yards down the field, that’s not far enough removed from the line of scrimmage to allow the flag to be thrown.
So, to summarize, one flag should probably have been thrown for violating the rule, but it wasn’t. If Meriweather is fined this week, it’ll mean that officials missed the call.