Chris Baker was ejected for hit that doesn’t violate the rules

AP

NFL officials rarely eject players for illegal actions occurring before the whistle.  On Sunday, the officials working the Washington-Philadelphia game ejected Washington defensive lineman Chris Baker after he flattened Eagles quarterback Nick Foles following an apparent interception.

They apparently shouldn’t have.

In the aftermath of Sunday’s game, we reported that Baker won’t be suspended for the infraction.  On Tuesday, NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent told the Washington Post that Baker won’t be fined — and apparently shouldn’t have even been penalized for the hit that sparked a brouhaha, which included the ejection of Eagles tackle Jason Peters.

“Baker didn’t do anything wrong with that hit,” Vincent said.  “When you look at the rule, he didn’t do anything illegal.  People can say it’s a cheap shot and you can talk about whether it might fall under unsportsmanlike conduct.  But when you know the rule and you look at the play, he didn’t hit him in the head.  He didn’t hit him in the neck.  We looked at it.  I looked at it very closely.  He’s not going to be fined for that.”

Vincent is right.  While a quarterback following a change of possession is regarded as “defenseless,” that designation means only that he can’t be hit in the head or neck area or with a helmet.  Baker blasted Foles while Foles was moving toward the play, but Baker didn’t hit Foles in the head or neck or with Baker’s helmet.  (If Foles weren’t pursuing the ball carrier, Bakers couldn’t have hit Foles legally.)

Under the rules, it was a clean play.  That’s an important point for everyone to remember going forward, by everyone.  Especially the officials.

98 responses to “Chris Baker was ejected for hit that doesn’t violate the rules

  1. Anybody see the pic floating around trolling DJax for standing off to the side during the brawl? Hilarious considering he talks the talk…

  2. The refs are all over the map on this stuff. Flags fly anytime a defensive lineman just so happens to let his hand hit the QB’s helmet with the force of a 3 year old girl….in view of that, Baker’s hit is no worse a call.

  3. Wasn’t he flagged and ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct, not the hit? He threw a punch at Peters and then dragged him around by his facemask. Dirty redskins.

  4. Where are the fines and suspensions for Tony Corrente and his crew of incompetents? It wasn’t just the Baker-Foles-Peters play – that was one of the worst jobs of officiating in memory from the very first penalty – which was badly bungled to the very last penalty.

    Despite his repeated protests, Roger Goodell requires ZERO accountability from anyone in his office or any game official.

    Roger Goodell’s NFL is a joke – on and off the field.

  5. Yes Cousins threw an Int and a missed FG didn’t exactly help, but this abomination by the officials drastically affected the outcome of this game. Fine the officials I say

  6. Now the QB is considered defenseless in the pocket, after throwing & after an interception. Thanks Manning & Brady for ruining the QB position with all your complaining & whining.

  7. The head/neck part is not how the NFL has applied the rule in the past, at least according to Vincent’s predecessor.

    If Russell Wilson or Manning was on the receiving end, it’d be a different story

  8. That is really a very interesting set of actions when you think about it for awhile. If Foles was not hit by a helmet and was not hit in the head or neck area, precisely why did the official throw a flag? And why did he get ejected for a move that’s not even an infraction?

    I don’t believe in conspiracies or fixes, so that leaves me with a couple of possible answers.
    1. The official doesn’t know the rules (in fact, all of them, didn’t know the rules because they had the chance to confer with each other). That is very unfortunate at this level.
    2. The protection of the QB takes precedent even over the rules.
    3. They made a mistake (see 1 above).

    I think this is a set of circumstances that should not be dropped. I don’t think the League Office or the officials should be allowed to say “oops” and let it go. This is very interesting and there is more to this.

  9. I don’t think Troy read the rulebook correctly. I’m pretty sure what Baker did was against Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7 (“Players in a Defenseless Posture”)

    Foles, I am pretty sure, counts as either or both of:

    (7)A quarterback at any time after a change of possession (Also see Article 8(f) for additional restrictions against a
    quarterback after a change of possession);
    (8)A player who receives a “blindside” block when the blocker is moving toward or parallel to his own end line and approaches the opponent from behind or from the side, and

  10. 1st, it wasn’t really during the play. When a guy is being tackled and his knee is an inch off the ground and your initiating a block 15 yards away, that’s unsportsmanlike.
    2nd, don’t you think he got ejected for the fight afterwards? At a minimum he grabbed onto a guys facemask and dragged him around for 5 seconds

  11. it’s not just qbs that are supposed to be protected from that situation. wasn’t that an example of a “peel back block” that was banned when warren sapp wrecked chad clifton?

  12. You can speculate all you want. Bottom line, the play was legal and shouldn’t have been a penalty or ejection … these plays or calls should be reviewed so the league can manage consistency in how games are called.

  13. I believe there was just a tad bit of extra-curricular activity going on after the legal hit which may have contributed to Mr. Baker’s ejection.

    Reminds me of the extremely dirty, however legal, hit that HOF Warren Sapp laid on the Packer player who ended up on IR a few years back.

  14. This rule came into being precisely for this specific play — doesn’t anyone remember Warren Sapp decking Chad Clifton on an interception return??

    I cannot fathom the level to which the NFL has gotten, and continues to get, things wrong. It’s as though they are living in Bizarro World.

  15. So in Troy Vincent’s (and NFL’s eyes) this is a legal hit because he didn’t hit Foles in the head/neck. Riddle me this…why is it “hitting a defenseless player” penalty when someone does the exact same type of hit to an offensive player when they’re trying to catch a ball? There are just too many judgement rules that the refs can not agree on anymore.

  16. “People can say it’s a cheap shot and you can talk about whether it might fall under unsportsmanlike conduct. ”

    So, it was technically not against the rules, but it’s still clearly a cheap shot.

    If you say you would be fine with your team’s QB getting blindsided like that, you’re lying.

  17. So, although the hit was deemed legal due to a gray area in the rule, a cheap shot like this that can potentially cause a season or career ending injury is okay as long as the QB’s head stays attached. Got it.

    If it were Wilson, Manning, Brady, Rodgers, hell even Manziel, a new rule would have been written in-game.

  18. How about the block in the back rule? To me that definately applies here. Although it wasn’t completely square it was to his back/right side. Granted I don’t know the rules to the T, but I’ve seen plays called for block in the back that happened similarly.

  19. Better have Twice the number of Refs and additional security at their next meeting in December as BOTH teams now have something to prove. This is surprising because Outside of Washington Fans All I heard was how cheap and unsportsmanlike that hit was. Eagles will want payback and Washington wants to show they will not be intimidated. I expect no less than 2 bench clearing brawls in their next meeting. Football or Hockey game?

  20. The redskins are the laughing stock of the NFL. They couldn’t sack Foles with a patchwork offensive line so they had to cheap shot him. What losers.

  21. I’m pretty sure he was ejected for grabbing the facemask of Peters and dragging him around with it for about 10 seconds before continuing to fight on the sidelines.

    I don’t think it was purely just the hit.

  22. The fact that the rules say it was a clean hit doesn’t make it a clean hit. A rulebook is just mans best attempt at putting on paper what should and should not happen. That hit should not have happened, whether it said so on the paper or not.

  23. The fact that opinions on this board about the legality of the play (most of them incorrect) are all over the place, and that the confusion about the applicable rules apparently is shared by the people charged with enforcing them, suggests that the rules themselves are too complex and need to be simplified. You look at a rule in that rulebook, and there are about 20 different corrolaries and exceptions, and you’re sometimes instructed to go to another section or two of the rules for further exceptions and guidance. I’m a lawyer and I’m used to trying to decipher purposely vague or confusing language, yet I have a hard time ascertaining just what is, or is not, against these rules.

  24. What is embarrassing is this fool Vincent who comes out and says that officials made mistakes on judgement calls. It does no good to create doubt in the officials from the NFL. Secondly he is wrong, I read the rule and it clearly pertains to this situation. I don’t even see how you could possibly read the rule and interpret it to apply here.
    ) A player who receives a “blindside” block when the blocker is moving toward his own endline and
    approaches the opponent from behind or from the side.
    You can nitpick all you want about whether this was on the side or he was technically on the front, but this is exactly the kind of hit this rule was put in to avoid. So not only do I think Vincent is wrong, but I think coming out and saying what he said was ignorant.

  25. I’m an Eagles fan and I thought the hit was kind of on the iffy side, not really dirty but kind of unnecessary.

    That being said, and I got shouted down (in the internet sense) on a Philly website for saying this, but if Fletcher Cox would’ve done the exact same thing to Eli or Romo, he’d instantly be an Eagle legend and would never have to pay for a drink in Philadelphia for the rest of his life, so maybe some Eagle fans need to turn down their outrage-meter.

  26. umm, What happened to the Hines Ward blindside illegal blocking rule. That is what I thought it would fall under. Ward broke Keith Rivers jaw with that kind of unwarranted hit, and it is the same thing here.

  27. I’d have to watch the play again, but according to Foles, the ball carrier was tackled and he thought the play was over.

  28. The history of Redskins versus Eagles match ups has always had a wealth of great fights, dirty play, etc…. Remember the bodybag game? All kinds of craziness happens when these two teams play each other and I love it and I think all NFL fans do

  29. If you didn’t watch the game, you shouldn’t comment. Baker was ejected for the hit, that is exactly what the ref said on live television. Peters was ejected for the fight.

    I understand what people are saying that he was involved in the fight and it would have been fair to eject Baker and Peters alike for the fight (that Peters initiated), but that isn’t what happened.

    Actually, what happened is that Baker was ejected for an illegal hit after the fight and then TRENT WILLLIAMS was ejected for fighting (while he was sitting on the bench doing nothing at all). The ref then had to go back and correct that it was PETERS being ejected, not Williams.

    The refs were bungling the whole game on each side, so it’s not surprising that this was bungled as well.

  30. If the qb or anyone else for that matter doesn’t want to be aware and protect themselves during the course of a play, then they should run away from the play and take themselves out of the action, not towards it. A clean hit on a legal target. And people, really!!!! Baker didn’t launch himself, no helmet contact, nothing. Just a clean shoulder block. It seemed bad because the qb didn’t see it coming. But it’s not a blockers duty to make his target aware that he is about to be blocked. Furthermore, you play to the whistle. It was still a live play. Near the end of the play yes, but still a live play.

  31. This is what happens when a commissioner lets lawyers make the rules for football players. This is the fallout from the concussion lawsuit.

  32. Bottom line is that the NFL does not want these blindside blocks coming back towards a play. Whether you agree with is or not that is the intent of the rule. He was not blocked directly in the front of his body, it was off to the side which the rule calls out. It’s like all you people complain about the rules being too in depth and complicated yet nitpick every single detail about the rule and now it may not apply.

  33. So if Breeland would have made it five yards further could Foles hand tackled him? Absolutely 100%. Stop all of this non-sense about cheap shot bs. Foles was moving towards the play and getting himself into a position where he could make a play on the ball carrier. If he was a DB instead of a QB this wouldn’t have even been a blip on NFL Network. Play til the whistle and if you don’t want to be hit or blocked you’re free to walk off of the field at any time.

  34. I can’t blame the refs for not knowing the rules. The NFL changes the rules every day to suit its needs. Domestic violence, concussions, protecting QBs. They took the “football” out of football a long time ago.

  35. I’m glad somebody mentioned Chad Clifton / Warren Sapp. It seems like this same scenario happens every year and the penalties / fines, if any, are never consistent. And it’s not always a QB taking the shot. The rulebook seems to contradict itself too. On one hand it appears to say that a “Quaterback at any time after a change of possesion” is in a defenseless posture. Then it says it’s only a penalty if the QB is hit in the head or neck in the confusing “Passer out of play” rule.

    Here’s what I’m pretty confident in: If Foles ended up getting injured, there would be a fine or suspension and the rule would be re-written. I’m fairly confident if this happened to Peyton Manning or Drew Brees, we’d also see a fine or suspension. My problem with the whole thing is that it’s never consistent and the league just re-writes or re-interprets the rules as it sees fit.

    Based on that hit and the lack of fine for that hit, the league just opened up season on QBs. Isn’t the league all about player safety, especially with QBs? I’m all for old school football, but this is just another example of NFL hypocrisy. Honestly, if I saw Roger Goodell on the street, I’d blindside him just to make a point. That guy is an ass.

  36. It’s not a good thing when even the league and refs can’t agree on the rules. It’s gotten to the point I now just have to watch and guess what the refs might call. And that doesn’t make for a super-enjoyable viewing experience.

  37. I feel like the part of the story that everyone is missing is how much worse the block looked than it actually was. According to Baker, he wasn’t even trying to hit Foles very hard– I don’t think anyone totally buys that, but there is certainly a grain of truth to it.

    If that was DeAngelo Hall throwing a block with a similar level of effort, Foles would barely have noticed, but Baker is 340 pounds– that is massive. Even if he was not trying to lay a block, but just incidentally bumped Foles, Nick would have gone flying. Whatever your thoughts on the hit, you should view it through the lens of just how big Baker is.

  38. Double standards all around here…
    The officials and the fans…when it’s the other teams player, it’s football, let them play. When it’s your quarterback, you cry foul and yell for a flag.

  39. Eagles fans: you may now shut the hell up.

    Foles was moving towards the ballcarrier, and however close you want to say Breeland was to being down, the play was not over. The hit was delivered in the strike zone, below the head/neck and above the waist.

    Stop your childish crying about it. He’s not hurt, and next time, I bet he’ll have his head on a swivel.

  40. Didn’t need to get ejected for the hit. Foles was alot closer to the live action than people make out. He was trying to hurt Foles, clearly…

    Maybe he was ejected for retaliation-related blows after Peters knocked him in the mouth in defense of Foles. In the game we won.

  41. Foles was moving towards the play, which made him a live player. He still gets the protections of a defenseless player, where you can’t hit him in the head or neck, but otherwise he is fair game. If you want to avoid that happenning to your QB, coach him to move away from the play, not towards it.

    Was the hit excessive? Of course it was. He had a free lick on the QB. And if anyone wants to pretend like he didn’t know that, then they’re delusional. Was the hit against the rules? No, it was not. He got the shot in on the front of the player, even if he didn’t see it coming. Do Philly fans have the right to complain about this? Probably not. On Mike and Mike this morning, Golic was talking about how when he was in Philly (20 years ago, admittedly), the defense was coached to find and blow up the QB on every turnover.

    It is football, fellas. If you don’t want to get hurt, stick to ballet.

  42. Eagles fans: you may now shut the hell up.

    remember . . what goes around ?
    don’t want to hear any skins-crying .. on 12/20.

  43. Baker was not ejected for the hit, he was ejected for jerking Jason Peters’ facemask in the post-play fight, and Peters was ejected for swinging.

  44. The refs sure are helping the Eagles reach that 3-0 record … Every week they get the calls.
    What’s going to happen in the 49ers game this week?
    My prediction ..
    Two 49er players ejected
    At least 12 penalties for over 100 yds
    and of course a win for the Eagles on a bad call.
    Shame on the NFL!

  45. Eagles in 2014 says:
    Sep 24, 2014 12:51 PM
    Eagles fans: you may now shut the hell up.

    remember . . what goes around ?
    don’t want to hear any skins-crying .. on 12/20.

    ——————

    If the Eagles make clean, legal hits, then what’s to cry about? Because, as the league has now confirmed, that’s all Chris Baker did.

  46. We’re forgetting the number 1 rule of sport… protect yourself @ all times. Standing around ‘thinking the play is dead’ will get your block knocked off. Foles should’ve played through the whistle, & this may have never happened. Qbs & kickers… not real football players anymore…smh

  47. Troy Vincent stated, accurately, that the hit did not constitute “prohibited” contact since it was not a hit to the head or neck or with any part of the helmet and thus no suspension or fine is warranted. However, he didn’t come out and say that no penalty should have been called, he seems to leave that up to the ref’s judgment as to whether the hit constituted unnecessary roughness. Under Rule 12, Section 2, Article 9, any hit to the quarterback after a change of possession or a blindside hit (from behind or the side) to any player by a blocker moving to his own end line can constitute “unnecessary” contact and thus a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. The ref can also throw the player out of the game if he judges the action to be flagrant. “Unnecessary” contact does not need to be “prohibited” contact to be flagged and in fairness to Troy Vincent, he didn’t say that, he simply stated that no fine or suspension was warranted. The roughing-the-passer penalty falls under the same part of the rulebook. A hit to the quarterback well after he throws the ball is almost always flagged for unnecessary roughness regardless of whether it’s a hit to the head or neck or with the helmet, though the latter will get the offending player a fine too. The same rule applies in this hit. The ref made the right call and so did the league.

  48. Wrong. A the time of the hit, the officials ruled it to be a change of possession (Interception).

    Refer to Numbers 8 and 9 in Article 9 of Rule 12 (Player Conduct) in the NFL rule book. It is very plain and does not require a head or neck contact to be enforced.

  49. Umm 1 problem. It was NEVER ruled an interception. NEVER. It was rules an incomplete pass. So it was unsportsmanlike conduct and the NFL is run by a bunch of jock straps.

  50. skins4life69 says:
    Sep 24, 2014 10:11 AM
    Nick Foles is got popped, and I loved every minute of it, it’s football, not two hand touch………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………Foles got popped many times in the game. GOT UP EVERYTIME and continue to play. how did BOB3 make out, and i loved that.

  51. kind of makes you wonder if the League office would have reacted the same way, had that hit been by James Harrison or Suh? Thats why fans have little to no respect for the fines and penalties handed out by the league and Goodell.

    They are arbitrary. Called one way one game, and the opposite the next game. I’m over 50, and I used to watch a game and know exactly what was holding, PI, personal fouls etc. Now I watch a play then look for the flag, and then guess what the ref is going to call.

  52. I’m pretty sure Baker was ejected for the horsecollar that was really a facemask on the punt return by Darren Sproles a little later in the game. The refs were just calling it early.

  53. Don’t tell that to the Huff Po, they had a huge article explaining why it was the right call….proof positive, Whiney Libs are ruining the NFL. hail to the REDSKINS!

  54. Legal hit? Maybe technically…maybe.

    Cheap shot? Absolutely.

    Reminded me of that blast Warren Sapp put on Chad Clifton in GB years ago. Knocked him out, injured, and nowhere near the ball.

    No problem with him being tossed.

  55. Years from now many people will recognize the name of Jason Peters and perhaps even Nick Foles, if he keeps playing well. However Chris Baker will be a nobody that no one remembers. His incident with Foles is already documented in Wikipedia and will likely be the highlight of his career. Let’s all give him his 15 minutes of fame and move on.

  56. Now, all these fake wannabees know-it-alls on here posting comments that were dogging Chris Baker for doing his job, need to know what they are talking and learn about football and the rules of the game.

    I knew I was right when I said recently (in one of my comments that was deleted by PFT personnel) that the people who make posts on here are just here to make funny comments about the topics of the posts and actually know nothing about FOOTBALL.

  57. To continue…If QB is pursuing play, he is considered potential tackler & can be blocked. He was moving toward play and, therefore, open to being blocked

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