Hit on Welker not currently illegal, but it could be in 2015

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Sunday’s Broncos-Seahawks game included a hit that has plenty of Denver fans crying foul that a foul wasn’t called.

Late in the fourth with the Broncos down 17-12 and facing third and 11 from the Seattle 24, quarterback Peyton Manning threw a pass to receiver Wes Welker.  Safety Kam Chancellor jumped up and intercepted the ball before it could get to the target.  Behind Chancellor, Welker absorbed a hit to the helmet from safety Earl Thomas.

A flag for unnecessary roughness would have overturned the turnover, giving Denver the ball back 12 yards closer to the end zone.

Per a league source, it was the right interpretation of the current rules.  Because Welker had not just made a catch, he did not fall within the “defenseless player” definition.  Likewise, because the interception had not clearly been completed, Welker did not enjoy the protections against a blind-side block.

The league nevertheless will study this specific situation in the offseason for a potential tweak to the rules that would give a receiver in that circumstance protection against the hit he absorbed in that specific situation.  For now, the hit landed in a gray area that allowed Thomas to avoid a flag and a fine.  In the future, that could change.

That won’t help Denver very much; they could have taken the lead 20-17 with less than two minutes to play, forcing Seattle to try to force overtime with a field goal, or to win it in regulation with a touchdown.

112 responses to “Hit on Welker not currently illegal, but it could be in 2015

  1. So how many more ways is the NFL going to try to help out the offense? People on defense are already playing on eggshells football is a fast and violent game and the players know that and accept that it’s why it turned into America’s number one sport well one of the reasons

  2. Oh I am sure it will be illegal in 2015, what won’t be? We need to focus on how Goodell is enabling owners to ruin the game with penalties before we focus on his now corrected mistake of Ray Rice, which isn’t an issue anymore.

  3. So if Welker made the catch and was lit up like that it’s a personal foul. Since he didn’t make the catch and it was intercepted it’s ok to take his head off. What am I missing? Who writes these rules ?

  4. Thomas hit Welker after the Seahawk intercepted the pass so Welker was not a receiver anymore. If the play could have been reviewed and slowed down that is what hey would have seen.
    I know fans are upset with the coin flip deciding the game but Denver had the advantage. If they would have held SEA scoreless OR to field goal, then they would have known what to do on offense, to go for it on 4th down if not in field goal range, and possibly have less than 80yrds to travel to score.

  5. And thousands of Denver fans turn their cries to the “unfair” overtime rules. The same rules that allowed them to end a playoff game on one play in 2011.

  6. I’ve noticed broncos fans have found one thing after another as to why they lost this game. The better team won and Russell Wilson showed he is a true leader and game changer. The OT drive was phenomenal!
    GO HAWKS!

  7. This is getting completely out of hand. Every time there is a borderline call people want to be put in another rule in a miss guided lame attempt to make the game perfect. The imperfection is what makes the game great and the last thing the NFL needs is another rule to slow things up. How can Welker be defenseless when he was trying to catch a ball and the defender was attempting to break it up the pass.

  8. In not even 2 days, Denver crying about overtime rules and “unnecessary” roughness. Anything to help “the mighty ole” Peyton to win a playoff game or two.

  9. Welker was gonna get trucked either way. The penalty should have been on Manning for leading his receiver in to the valley of death. Terrible decision, terrible pass.

  10. Boo hoo, another hit on Wes!

    If you’re friends with Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, of course you’ll benefit. Yet another reason to hate both QBs ? Especially Manning, the NFL won’t do anything to upset their golden boy.

  11. I only watched the first half of the game, so maybe I’m missing something, but i don’t understand your logic on the potential scoring. You said the Broncos were down 17-12. IF the rule was different and IF the interception was overturned and the penalty yards assessed, it sounds like you’re assuming that the Broncos would’ve scored a TD AND a two point conversion to force Seattle into that scenario. Thats a lot of assuming.

  12. Disregarding the merits of a rule change, fans should avoid wishing a penalty that had no effect on the play would have been called.

    In the 49er/Chicago game there was a clear tripping violation right before a 49er was stripped of the ball. It was not called. 49ers lost the ball. The thing though is that the trip had nothing to do with the fumble.

    In general we want “our” teams to win because they are better and deserve the victory not because an obscure violation negated a good play by the opposition.

  13. Ryan clark was flagged for laying out Wes Welker in 2008 even though the ball was tipped and Welker hadn’t caught it (meaning he wasn’t a “defenseless receiver”). He even led with his shoulder and hit Welker in the chest. Different rules or different officiating?

  14. “A flag for unnecessary roughness would have overturned the turnover, giving Denver the ball back 12 yards closer to the end zone.”

    Even though the hit happened after the turnover?

  15. If the hit didn’t contribute to the ball being picked off and especially if it occurred after the play why should Denver keep the ball ?

    Of course Goddell would have QBs and WRs wearing pink flags if Fran’s would pay for it

  16. As a Broncos fan, I wasn’t as annoyed by that as I was by the drive killing no call on offsides. Bill Vinovich is a disgrace of an official in general.

    All that being said, this article is a moot point if Peyton hits wide open Emmanuel Sanders on the pass in question instead of setting up Wes Welker for decapitation.

  17. My god Denver fans whine about everything… Phil Simms doesn’t like us…. Seattle beats us up… whaaaa whaaaaa whaaaaa… Get over it already….

  18. Except penalties have been called for a hitting a receiving in a defenseless position when they just missed making the catch. So something is wrong somewhere.

  19. Week-after-week I see nonsense “unnecessary roughness” penalties and most of the time it’s a blown call. That hit was the perfect definition for unnecessary roughness.

    Soon, you’ll have to use a forklift to access the rulebook due to the growing complexity in a once simple game.

  20. Players, the NFLPA, and their lawyers.
    These people are the reason why defenses are no longer allowed to defend anything.
    IMO players should be forced to sign a waiver before each half, before ever stepping on the field. This way there is no way to argue that the player “didn’t know” or “the NFL failed to provide proper warning that a player might get a hangnail”.

    Go Welker and Manning!

  21. My biggest issue with this discussion isnt the hit, but rather, the fact that the interception gets over turned because of a “penalty” that happens after the change of possession. It drives me crazy when a team gets a turn over, and then the outcome of the play gets over turned because of something stupid. For example, a player gets an interception and during the return a defensive lineman lights up the qb and gets a 15 yard penalty. I agree there is no place in the game for that hit, but should that really wipe out an interception that happened 5 seconds before the penalty?

  22. Is there a fan base that is a bigger bunch of whiners than Donkey Nation? They carp about Phil Simms as an announcer; they complain about borderline hits, while Peyton Manning and his receivers have perfected the art of disguising illegal picks; in the ’80s and ’90s their O-line was coached in the finer points of the career-ending-for-D-Linemen techniques of cut back blocking; they cheated on the salary cap to win a Super Bowl.

    Perhaps we should not be surprised as their sainted current GM, when a college senior, weaseled his way out of playing for a less-than-promising Colts franchise and later raised a son who now appears to be as abusive to women as Ray Rice.

    There cannot be a group that is more collectively thin-skinned and hypocritical.

  23. We don’t need a new rule everytime Peyton Manning loses a football game.

    Why doesn’t the NFL just give him another Lombardi trophy. They can say, ‘We’re sorry the only one of these you managed to win was against Red Grossman. So we chipped in and got you this for all those nice commercials you do. Now you have as many as your brother.’

  24. Cleary if the Int wasn’t made Earl Thomas was laying out Welker on that duck. You don’t think Seattle All Pros don’t know the rules?
    Should have, could have, would have – a touchdown because you are in the red zone became automatic when in this league?

  25. Dissection of any game will reveal missed calls.As pointed out the hit on 83 was not one.

    Let’s tweak the rules more to the liking of “finesse teams” to give them more of a chance to discourage intimidation of tough defenses.

    Just accept the fact that players like Russell Wilson, who is a true dual threat, will overcome whatever restrictions that rules put in place. Change them all you want, Peyton and Brady-type players are fading away and will be replaced by more athletic types.

    It’s inevitable. Just look at the QB pipeline of high school and college. Changing the “Welker rule” won’t mean anything in the long term. Players will adjust.

  26. Is anything that negatively affects the “chosen ones” subject for rule change? Thomas’ timing was such that he’d have hit Welker as the ball arrived if it hadn’t been picked.

  27. That hit should absolutely be illegal if all these other ticky-tack hits are being flagged.

    There’s some hits where it seems that safeties are not allowed to hit the receivers. They’re just supposed to let the WR catch the ball, wait for the WR to take a couple steps, then hit him.

    This league is out of control.

  28. I’m all about common sense changes that make the game safer (even if they occasionally take some of the big hits out).

    But this is ridiculous: that hit would have arrived at the same time as the ball, and probably wouldn’t have been high if welker reached up for the ball. So now the DB has to also know to pull up if the guy behind him jumps in for the interception? How?

  29. I can’t believe that wasn’t called, but the Bears DB cleanly hit Kerley on that TD catch last night and it’s called. Like andreboy1 said, you’re not allowed to hit WRs anymore. It’s unreal.

  30. Denver fans sure are whiny. It’s football. It was an attempt by Thomas after the INT to take Welker out of the play and prevent him from going after Thomas. I see lineman get mauled and hit low, high, from behind intentionally yet no flags. Recievers you even get near them and they throw a flag. I think this hit is a good no call. Too many games are now decided by flags. This was similar to the “pick” block Welker put on Talib last year in AFC championship. Welker became a defender the second that pass was picked off and he was treated by the rules like a defender.

  31. I remember when they used to say “keep your head on a swivel”.

    Now they say “if you get hit while you are not looking it will be an automatic 15 yards”.

  32. Yet ANOTHER Peyton Manning rule? Just what the NFL needs. Another rule instituted because The Great Peyton Manning didn’t win. Earl timed the hit based on the ball’s trajectory. It was a bang-bang play. Chancellor intercepted the ball a split second before Thomas was to make contact with Welker. Because of the trajectory of the ball, Thomas while going 20+ MPH had decided on a path that would dislodge the ball that was to arrive had Chancellor not made that impressive jumping interception.

    The facts are this – The NFL is making it impossible to play defense.

  33. So what does this mean if there’s a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage? That happens all the time. So we’ve asked guys to separate the receiver from the ball but they can’t do that now. We want them to use their shoulders which is behind their helmets in ANY type of tackle when not using your chest. Can the game become too safe to the point where its not football anymore?

  34. You guys didn’t care when welker took out talib during the afc game last year

    But if the rule benefits Peyton….

  35. If the refs made that call and gave the ball back to the Broncos the NFL would have done so after reinstating Welker early from his drug suspension and allowing him to play despite several concussions. That would be a triple crown of Peyton Manning gifts. In fairness, given the Seahawks are reigning Super Bowl champs and were playing at home, I thought the refs allowed hits on Manning that refs usually protect him from taking.

  36. The officials are lost now on how they look at calls. More and more rules, less consistency by officiating crews and watered down product.

  37. We don’t need a new rule everytime Peyton Manning loses a football game.

    Why doesn’t the NFL just give him another Lombardi trophy. They can say, ‘We’re sorry the only one of these you managed to win was against Red Grossman. So we chipped in and got you this for all those nice commercials you do. Now you have as many as your brother.”

    Good call. Let’s give him a lifetime achievement Lombardi, like the Academy Awards and quit ruining the game.

    They should also fine Snead, the Hawk DB who proposed on the field after the game, on one knee like a classy gentleman.

    Peyton doesn’t like that much celebration after he loses.

  38. It’s odd to see so many comments here implying that officials often give Manning the benefit of the doubt and make calls in his favor. Some here go so far to say that rule changes are made to benefit him and his career.

    Seriously? Listen to yourselves. I suppose anything is possible, but in that particular game I’m trying to think of any blown or missed calls that DIDN’T benefit the Seahawks. If you’re going to say the league/refs favor Manning it might be better received while discussing a game where the calls actually favored Manning.

    Like so many (TOO many) games this year the officials have dictated the outcome. It’s a fact of life today – teams must outplay the other team, but must also play to overcome the gameplan and errors of the refs (as sad as that is). For me, personally, I just want some damned consistency.

  39. Dear Seahawks…

    The horse in your rearview mirror is closer than it appears.

    A few questionable non-calls and a coin flip was all that stood between you and another game in the loss column.

    NO EXCUSES – GET THE MAN THE RING !!!!!!!

    Sincerely,
    Bronco Nation

  40. For all The Denver fans looking for excuses – there was a missed call on the two point conversion that should have nullified that play and sent the ball back 15 yards. A Broncos o-lineman had O’Brien Schofield by the helmet and facemask and took him down and then tried to tackle Scofield when he got back up and took after Manning. Had that been called, Denver should have been backed up to the 17 – a much lower percentage play. If Schofield is not fouled, he likely gets pressure on Manning who may not have time to make the play. Stop whining – game possibly should have ended in Seattle’s favour in regular time.

  41. bartpkelly says:
    Sep 23, 2014 7:34 AM
    Thomas hit Welker after the Seahawk intercepted the pass so Welker was not a receiver anymore. If the play could have been reviewed and slowed down that is what hey would have seen.
    I know fans are upset with the coin flip deciding the game but Denver had the advantage. If they would have held SEA scoreless OR to field goal, then they would have known what to do on offense, to go for it on 4th down if not in field goal range, and possibly have less than 80yrds to travel to score.
    ——————–

    1. The (non) call was correct.

    2. The coin toss did not decide the game. All Denver needed to do was hold Seattle to a field goal to have a chance to get the ball and win with a touchdown.

    3. Every time Peyton or someone connected to him whines, the rules change, and further eliminates defense.

  42. canhawk says:
    Sep 23, 2014 10:54 AM
    For all The Denver fans looking for excuses – there was a missed call on the two point conversion that should have nullified that play and sent the ball back 15 yards. A Broncos o-lineman had O’Brien Schofield by the helmet and facemask and took him down and then tried to tackle Scofield when he got back up and took after Manning. Had that been called, Denver should have been backed up to the 17 – a much lower percentage play. If Schofield is not fouled, he likely gets pressure on Manning who may not have time to make the play. Stop whining – game possibly should have ended in Seattle’s favour in regular time.
    —————–

    Denver got away with tons of holding on Schofield, Avril and Bennett all game and wasn’t called for it once.

  43. denverdude7 says:
    Sep 23, 2014 10:50 AM
    Dear Seahawks…

    The horse in your rearview mirror is closer than it appears.

    A few questionable non-calls and a coin flip was all that stood between you and another game in the loss column.

    NO EXCUSES – GET THE MAN THE RING !!!!!!!

    Sincerely,
    Bronco Nation
    ——————-

    Not really. Seattle did whatever they wanted when they were trying to move the ball. They sat on it the entire second half (foolishly), and then when they needed to score, they went right back to doing whatever they wanted.

    Like Sherman said, the game shouldn’t have been close, but keep deluding yourself into thinking that Denver has caught up.

  44. It should have been a flag, because Welker was in the act of making a catch. He was reaching back for the ball that unfortunately never made it to him. It doesn’t change the fact that he was reaching for the ball, i.e. act of making a catch.

    That’s all. Just one of many mistakes made by the refs.

  45. Ok…..I’m tired of the Broncos (and their fans) playing the blame game. Omg….it was the coin toss! Omg….it was a hit that was and still is legal that was layed on our injury prone Golden Boy Welker! Omg….it’s the refs fault for non-calls! God we could go on and on.
    Facts:
    1) Seattle scored more points plain and simple.
    2) Manning did a heck of a job on last drive but where was that in the rest of the game? Oh must be the coaches fault since Manning pretty much calls or changes the plays when he wants.
    3) Coin toss has been around for ages in ot. Think this is the 1st game to end when “momentum” was favoring the other team? No….should have stopped the Seahawks offense in ot then.
    4) Was Thomas’s hit helmet to helmet? No….it was a solid clean hit at fast speeds….get over it.
    5) Denver lost to a solid team….just be happy it wasn’t 43-8 all over again.
    6) Refs miss calls in every game and against every team.
    So….Denver….in the end….your team lost and no one else is to blame but yourselves. Accept it and go into the bye week knowing you have another tough test against the Cards in your future.

  46. So tired of the people who complain about the coin flip and say, well Denver didn’t get a chance. Yeah? Your defense didn’t play? If not for a missed FG there would have been no OT. If not for a blown call negating that fumble they may have been no OT. If not for the no call on the two pt conversion there would have been no OT. Get over it.

  47. Tons of comments claiming Broncos fans are just whining and blaming the refs – yet no comments from Broncos fans actually doing that. Strange.

  48. It’s a Peyton Manning led team, of course they will change this rule, along with the OT ruled. Because Peyton lost. The league cares too much when certain players don’t get their way.

  49. You know what’s most funny about all this?

    Manning, Brady, Brees and even (but to a lesser extent) Rogers are on their way out.

    Wilson and Luck will be the two new golden childs.

    We’ll begin getting all the bogus calls that have been going against us and I, for one, will LMAO.

    Who has the top QB rating in the NFL?

    That would be little R. Wilson.

  50. What about that off side flag that was picked up … now that was a joke!
    Replay showed 2 Seahawks players off side and the ref threw the flag BUT after discussing it for 5 mins it was picked up. Seriously an off side?

  51. The funny thing is there’s more whining about the officiating in these comments from Seahawks fans than anyone else.

  52. The real question is how does a suspended drug user get his suspension lifted to play in the game to start with. How about the catch and fumble that was overturned…lots of no calls both ways. The better team, which dominated the game for 55 minutes won.

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