Hit on Sam Bradford wasn’t illegal

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Two years ago, former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh lobbied for greater protections for mobile quarterbacks, complaints that ultimately served as a verbal rope-a-dope for a Week One game against the Packers, whose defense Colin Kaepernick then shredded with his arm. The league thereafter considered changing the rules to provide more protection for running quarterbacks, but the rules didn’t change.

Last night, current Ravens coach John Harbaugh had the unchanged rules applied against his team improperly.

Clean or dirty, the hit from Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs on Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford didn’t violate the current rules. A quarterback remains subject to being hit like a runner (e.g., at or below the knees) until he is “clearly out of the play,” as NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino previously has said.

Bradford had just given the ball to running back Darren Sproles via a zone-read-style handoff, which is the type of action from which the quarterback often emerges with the football — either to run with it or to throw it. So he wasn’t clearly out of the play, even though he did indeed give the ball to Sproles.

If a team is going to try to confuse defenders regarding who actually has the ball, defenders shouldn’t be punished for guessing wrong. And, as Suggs said last night, if a team with a quarterback who has had two torn ACLs in the same knee is going to run the read option, any blame for the quarterback getting hit legally should rest with the coach who put the quarterback in that position. We’ll add this p.s. to the point: Blame also should go to the coach who opted to give a defender like Suggs a free run at the quarterback.

97 responses to “Hit on Sam Bradford wasn’t illegal

  1. Those rules seem to depend on the QB being hit. Snores near Brady’s knees and it is an automatic flag.

  2. Not Ravens fan or Eagles fan but my take on this is that Suggs will make the team, he isn’t gonna get cut and its preseason so why in the world do these players have to hit QB’s although legal but not necessary. This stuff happens all the time in the NFL and its ridiculous. Ending careers shouldn’t be goals of players.

  3. I guess when Joe Flacco comes out of play action defensive players are able to dive at his knees even though the WR or RB are running down the field with the ball in their hands.

    I am no rule expect but did pay attention because my team has a running QB – I do recall if a QB hands the ball off and steps back or is in passing stance and not a running stance he gets passer protections.

  4. That’s how you deter than from running the zone-read-style handoff again. It was a smart and physical play by Suggs even though it may be a bit excessive for a pre-season game.

  5. Wasn’t the rule changed after the Carson Palmer low hit to the knee in the playoffs against the Steelers?

  6. One there is a difference between a hand off and a zone read and that was a hand off. Second it’s not really the point that he was hit its football he should be hit. It’s the fact that he had his head down going straight for the knee in a preseason game. He had 4-5 steps after the hand off to aim for the mid section and upper torso and he went right for the knee. If it’s Bradford who had ACL surgeries or a guy like Eli who never has there is absolutely no need to go straight for a players knee, especially in preseason.

  7. I don’t know if you read comments, Florio, but it’s sad that a media member doesn’t know the rules or at least doesn’t take the time to do a little research.

    Per Dean Blandino:

    “When the quarterback puts the ball in the running back’s belly, the
    referee doesn’t know who has the football, the defender doesn’t know who
    has the football, so if it’s a bang-bang split second, then yes, he can
    hit the quarterback,” Blandino said.

    “But if the quarterback has clearly handed off the football, and he’s standing still, or fading backwards, he cannot be unnecessarily
    contacted, and that doesn’t matter if it’s a read-option quarterback or a classic drop-back quarterback. If they’re standing still or fading
    backward after the ball has left their hand, they cannot be unnecessarily contacted.”

    Anyone that isn’t blind can see that the latter scenario happened here.

    Secondly, even if one believed that it was a bang-bang play and that hitting the QB was permissible, hitting the QB in the knee area or below is not permitted.

    “No defensive player who has an unrestricted path to the quarterback may hit him flagrantly in the area of the knee(s) or below when approaching in any direction.”

    Note that the rules states “quarterback” not “passer”. IF Bradford had been running the ball, then one could argue that the rule doesn’t apply because the defender didn’t have a direct path to him. Bradford wasn’t as stated above.

    Either way, it’s clearly a penalty.

  8. I wondered if realfootballfan considered that dirty and legal might not be mutually exclusive concepts, but then again I guess we can only work with the tools we’ve been given. Btw, all years are the same 365.25 days in length.

  9. I lost a little respect for Suggs, but not for the reason the Iggles might prefer.

    Suggs is a valuable veteran, and not fighting for a roster spot, but”easing up” should not be in the vocabulary of an NFL player. As long as its a legal hit, Suggs should have delivered everything he could on that QB’s knee.

    “Easing up” doesn’t get the QB out of the game, and it doesn’t teach the Iggles coaching staff to stop trying to get cute with that read-option.

    Football is violent. Soft players don’t last. It would be better if the Iggles coach were a bit smarter than he is.

  10. Bradford was clearly out of the play. He did not carry out a fake in any way. Even if hitting the QB was legal (and it wasn’t because he clearly did not have the ball) it was a really cheap shot especially to go right at his knees.

    By this standard you can dive at a QBs knees on a fake play action even if he dosn’t have the ball. The idea this hit is in some way allowed is ridiculous. It isn’t and it shouldn’t.

  11. It was a clean play, its the teams job to protect their qb..its like eagles fans want players to take it easy on him..suggs wasnt even going at his knee..he was around the thigh area.

  12. Yeah eagleslakers is 100% correct. All you Raven fans or Eagle haters need to stop your “see see” and take note.

    This artical is false. Period. This is not my opinion, it is a fact when you look at the rules. But all this technical stuff is a waste of breath. Just say…. Suggs dived head down at the legs. Period. Its a flag. Its in the rule book. All you people saying otherwise look stupid now…

    Btw Eagles look gooooooooddd. Looks like Kelly is smarter than all of you lol.

  13. Thank you eagleslakers for explaining, from the horses mouth, why this play was penalized. I really wouldn’t have minded if Suggs hit him in the Chest or midsection but when you make a late charge for a QBs knee (in the freakin preseason) it’s not cool. Suggs had practiced all week with Eagles, obviously knew about Bradfords knee, and shot right at it. Like others have said, if that Brady, Rodgers or Manning no one would question the penalty. Of course most people questioning it are division rivals who bring incessant nonsense to every Eagles related article.

    The rest of the division is probably getting a little worried after watching our offense and defense do a number on the Colts and Ravens. I mean the ones against the ones was no contest last night.

  14. Wasn’t so much the hit as it was the grabbing and twisting of the left leg that got my fellow Eagles fans panties in a bunch.

  15. It’s wasn’t a dirty play, and now we know shouldn’t have been a penalty. There are no rules to protect a player, with previous injuries.

  16. Not gonna argue too much about mobile QBs and whether they are free game to hit until they are clear of the play, as that’s going to be subjective as to the intent of the defender. Could have Suggs made the tackle without going at bradfords knees? However what I do wonder is what’s Florios take on this play is, if it was golden boy Tom Brady getting hit like that by Suggs? Based on PFTs strident defense of Brady, I’m going to guess his view might be skewed slightly different if old Brady gets hit and injured.

  17. No ones complaining about the legality you idiot. It was a dirty and unnecessary shot. Suggs is an aging slug who is useless and irrelevant at this point in hiss career.

  18. If you run zone/read option plays with your QB, he will get hit. As stated above by someone else, it will happen all year to deter you from letting your QB get abused. People said Chip is a genius, he should be able to figure that out on his own. It will be funny watching the Eagles trying to win playoff spot with Sanchez.

  19. Legal hit? Probably

    Did Suggs intentionally go low from a mid-crouched rush mid-stride? Definitely

    Two things to take away from this:

    1. Suggs is a veteran rusher who knew by the flow of the play and Bradford’s movement the QB didn’t have the ball, and that he had a free shot. He has historically been a punk in these scenarios and he took it to the knees.

    2. If the Eagles plan on putting Bradford in that situation in the future, he better get wiser fast about reading a defense and calling protection audibles at the line of scrimmage. Suggs showed rush off that edge plain as day with a bead on the QB – a smarter QB sees that and makes a change at the line.

    Suggs is still a punk though.

  20. I believe quite a few people here pointed out this offseason that you couldn’t hand pick a worse QB for Kelly’s offense than Bradford with his durability issues.

  21. The solution here isn’t to say: Oh Eagles shouldn’t run the read-option because Bradford may get illegally hit

    It’s to start increasing the fines for scumbags like Suggs and suspending them if they are repeat offenders(like Suggs is).

  22. Lol laughable anyone comparing whoever plays qb for philly to tom Brady!!

    Those non descript Philly qbs who I wouldn’t know if I fell over them don’t deflate footballs.

  23. I could care less about either of those teams, but was that really a zone read play? Looked to me that it was a straight hand-off 5-7 yards deep in the backfield, with the QB hit at the knees after the ball was handed off. These technical arguments remind me of the guy busted for DUI with a .20 blood alcohol level contending they shouldn’t be found guilty cause the cop didn’t have probable cause to stop the car in the first place — in both situations the wrongdoers are still dumbasses.

  24. Stop it, of course it was illegal he handed the ball off and stood like a statue until he got hit 2 sec after the handoff. Suggs is as dirty as they come and he enjoys it. If I’m the opposing coach he gets a helmet on the knee every block.

  25. I would very much disagree that Bradford wasn’t clearly out of the play. Replay shows pretty definitively that you can see that Bradford doesn’t have the ball before Suggs lowers the head and goes for the knees.

  26. justintuckrule says:
    Aug 23, 2015 2:13 PM
    Lol laughable anyone comparing whoever plays qb for philly to tom Brady!!

    Those non descript Philly qbs who I wouldn’t know if I fell over them don’t deflate footballs.


    You should know them. They beat you’re Giants EVERY year

  27. What’s so funny about this, Is the take away from this article is the “technicality” of whether this was dirty or not. Bradford made no attempt to conceal he handed the ball off, however Suggs saw his opportunity to hit Bradford, and also hit him low. The same people blaming a team running a QB option are the same people claiming it’s the QBs fault when he throws the ball,over the middle and a defender takes a cheap shot. So teams aren’t supposed to throw over the middle,,or allow their QBs to run an option simply because defenders take cheap shots ? We all,know Brady Rodgers, Bree’s and manning get that call, and the league fines Suggs. Rest of the league QBs are target practice.

  28. Let Suggs keep doing that. Teams will retaliate. That was a penalty & it wasn’t even remotely close. Let Suggs try that on Roethlisberger. I’m sure the Steelers defenders will make sure Flacco doesn’t walk the rest of the season.

    Last year’s playoff game against the Patriots clearly showed that the Ravens have a supreme disregard for reading the NFL Rule Book. It cost them a season last year, and it will cost them a top-paid QB this year if Suggs doesn’t wanna play fair.

  29. Not to mention they called the penalty as “roughing the passer”. Eagles fans are just mad because they realized that Sanchez will be their starter for most of the season.

  30. So purposefully trying to injure a player with a legal hit is okay?

    Didn’t the saints get massive penalties for that?

  31. people seem to be using the fact that it was a read option play as a smoke screen to mask what actually was illegal and that was the dive at a QB’s knees, blandino has been very clear on this, and it was tom brady who lobbied loudest and longest for it,
    as far as suggs goes….. pretty classless ,scumbag maneuver ,exactly what I’d expect from him,
    So now I repeat…. You may not hit a QB unimpeded below the knees EVER !!!

  32. It’s been proven by the head of umpires, to be a legal tackle folks. And, nothing dirty either. Dirty? That’s just an opinion.

  33. Never said it was illegal. Just because plays are legal doesn’t make them not dirty. I would’ve rather seen Bradford get totally laid out then watch Suggs dive right at his knee.

  34. Not true Curb. NFL rule: ” It is not a foul if the defender swipes, wraps, or grabs a passer in the knee area, or below, in a attempt to tackle”.

  35. Who cares if it was illegal or not? The Ravens got schooled last night and the play or penalty had nothing to do with the outcome. Flacco threw two INTS on his first two drives. Suggs and Bradford were not on the field for either. The Ravens defense should be embarrassed about that.

  36. I’m no Ravens fan, nor am I a fan of Tyrell Suggs but there is no question that a QB who is running through a “read option” set of reads SHOULD be legal to hit. More that that, if I were the coach, the QB would be hit every time they run that play regardless of whether they have the ball.

    It only makes sense to want to discourage the opposition from running that kind of play, and give them a reason NOT to run it.

    HOWEVER this isn’t about whether the QB is legal to hit, I think we would all agree that he should be. This is about whether Suggs’ attempt to go for the QB’s knee was both unethical and dirty.

    I haven’t seen the film, but if Suggs had the ability NOT to dive at the QB’s knee and did it anyway, then he is clearly a scumbag dirty player. If he had a blocker at his feet or had to dive in an attempt to just get there, or was knocked down and was scrambling to get to the play, its entirely another story, But as I understand it, that was not the case in the Suggs hit,.

    What the league should clear up for the players is this. It’s OK to hit a QB on zone read options. It is NOT OK to go after the knee when it’s not necessary and it should be penalized if the ref determines that it could have been avoided

  37. Ball carriers are allowed to be hit in the legs!! When you run the read-option, the QB is a ball carrier. The Brady rule and QB protection don’t apply here.

  38. We all know Suggs is dirty. It was a penalty. Good call. Take notice haters above. 40 points with back-ups! You NFC East Trolls will giving up your season very soon.

  39. So this was a okay where the Ravens defense could have been confused?

    I understand
    We need to change the rule so the referee will announce if the QB is going to handoff the ball and tell the Ravens not to cover the QB

    We will call it
    harbaugh stupid rule change 2

  40. It didn’t matter who had the ball, Suggs was going after Bradford either way. He had plenty of time to pull up, but he didn’t, and he went right for the knees. That was his intent all along. The guys is as dirty as they come.

  41. It amazes me how many people think it is ok for a player to intentionally try to inflict a season or career ending injury on another player! When you go after the knees, that’s what your doing. I wonder how many NFL players would agree with that.

  42. The Eagles have no worries,,,at least from their teams in the NFC east that is !!!! The Cowboys clearly have no running game!!! The Giants are hurting with the Redskins on both sides of the ball !!! Looking forward to taking the NFC east division as Chip Kelly takes the birds to a long awaited Super Bowl victory!!!! Breaking news Jordy Nelson out for year,,,,Arron Rodgers out 1 very important weapon!!! Let’s go get this Super Bowl!!!!

  43. eagleslakers says:


    Thank you for finding that Blandino article. I heard him say it on this site and on NFL Network. That was my exact understanding of zone read and read option protection.

  44. A few yrs ago, Eagles vs Patriots. (not the SB) Trent Cole’s pinky brushed Tom Brady’s helmet. and i mean brushed, no movement from Brady nothing to show that he even felt it in slow mo replay. and Trent cole got 15yrd penalty, AND the $$$ fine the next day from the NFL.

    So if they’re going to call that, then yes, a shot at the knees, in preseason, is certainly worth a penalty! As long as the NFL likes you (ask Mike Vick about No Calls) . I wonder if Brady will get those calls this season.

  45. Although the play may be legal, the fact that Suggs intentionally went for his injured leg is what made it dirty. Tackle the qb, ok, sure. But intentionally try to injure him? Flag any player all day

  46. jackasstheraven says:
    Aug 23, 2015 2:41 PM
    @thekingdp- Your threats are hilarious.


    It’s not a threat, it’s a promise. I’m not even a Steelers fan. I was just making a point. Instead of worrying about my comments on PFT, you need to talk to your boy Suggs before he get’s Flacco career shortened.

  47. This is ridiculous. Yes he went low but not below the knees. In football, you are taught to tackle low because the legs are what keep people up.

    What a joke these fans getting upset. It’s not Suggs or anyone elses fault the guy has two ACL tears and his coach called a read option. It’s football. Don’t wanna get hit then don’t suit up. If that’s the attitude it’s gonna be a longgg year for Bradford and the Eagles.

  48. Legal or not, it’s a very cheap shot. What DL/LB decides to go low on a QB instead of making a highlight reel hit on him? And why go low on Bradford at all. He isn’t exactly Earl Campbell.

  49. I’d be worried if my QB was Mr. Glass…lol.

    But seriously, chip has made this team fast, but they are STILL softer than Charmin. THat’s why they still have to go to all of their division rivals stadiums to see what a Lombardy trophy looks like.

  50. If Suggs had been doing his job, he could have stopped Sproles for a loss. And he’s definitely capable of making that stop in that situation. Instead, he completely ignored the ball carrier and lowered himself to take a direct shot at the knees. And Sproles had a nice 7-8 yard gain on the play. If Suggs does that in the regular season, or the playoffs, and it costs his team in a big game, the Ravens fans won’t be so quick to embrace his actions.

    His comments afterwards (“if you want to read the run option with a QB who has had two surgically repaired knees, that’s on you”) make his intention to take out Bradford’s knees plain. God knows what he has against Bradford. Maybe his coach was getting on him all week because Bradford was getting the ball out quick and burning his defense in those joint practices.

    Whatever the reason for his cheapshot, it stinks all around.

    He deserves an egregious fine.

  51. LOL you idiots, like anyone thought Bradford was running. Suggs is an idiot who guessed wrong intentionally, just to hit him. If he was doing his job, Sproles wouldn’t of got 5 yards filling the area the idiot left wide open. A move only a clown would do in the pre-season.

  52. Gotta go with Sukks on this one. Keep your QB out of the read option if you don’t want him to get hit.

  53. Suggs is an idiot who guessed wrong intentionally, just to hit him.

    That’s what I was yelling at the tv for the defense to do the first year the read option went viral.

    I applaud him for it.

    And I hate the guy.

  54. Amazing so many fans commenting “Ha ha, Eagles, we were right” just because Florio posts a factually inaccurate opinion that is contrary to the actual NFL rules and direct quotes from the NFL’s Head of Officiating Dean Blandino regarding how they would/should be interpreted.

  55. Florio is missing the point. The issue isn’t that he hit Bradford. It’s that the hit was late and low. That’s what makes it dirty, especially in a preseason game.

  56. Not a fan of either team, and don’t like Suggs at all, but having seen the replay of this particular play it seems to me like Suggs initially wraps up Bradford in the thigh area and Sam jumping away from Suggs causes the tackle to wrap up his knees instead. Furthermore if you want to call this play dirty because its preseason then thats fine, but if this were a regular season play then there is nothing wrong with it, the QBs are pampered enough. This is football, a grown man’s sport, and this wasn’t even a “dirty tackle”, its actually a text book wrap up of the legs, not diving at the knees like others seem to think.

  57. It’s interesting to read comments claiming to know Suggs’ INTENT, when the same posters clearly don’t even know the rules or what’s right in front of their eyes. In real time there isn’t even one second between the time Bradford hands off the ball and the time Suggs tackles him. In those types of zone read plays, Bradford is Suggs sole responsibility. He doesn’t go for the RB, he goes for the QB. Also, it’s clear from the video that Bradford twists to get away at the very last second. It’s NOT Suggs twisting Bradford, it’s Bradford trying to juke his way out of Suggs path.

  58. Amazing so many fans commenting “Ha ha, Eagles, we were right” just because Florio posts a factually inaccurate opinion that is contrary to the actual NFL rules and direct quotes from the NFL’s Head of Officiating Dean Blandino regarding how they would/should be interpreted.


    This. Blatantly wrong article. Blatantly illegal hit according to the head of officiating. I do t know why other teams fans hate Bradford so much, but it was both illegal AND dirty. Suggs has no problem being a scumbag. And admitted to trying to hurt another player.

  59. I’ll repeat the rule again: “It is NOT a foul if the defender swipes, wraps, or grabs a passer in the knee area, or below, in an attempt to tackle”. This may not even apply because Bradford handed the ball off and was “part of the play”.

  60. If Suggs bit on the RB and tackled him without the ball and the QB takes off for a 50 yd TD everyone is talking about the genius of Chip Kelly and nobody expected Bradford to run.

  61. Let’s put it this way for all the armchair officials. That play will get flagged every time. Unless Bradford was running with the ball, which he wasn’t, they could have either called it roughing the passer, or a personal foul if you want to go by letter of the law.

    The Eagles will take that penalty every time if teams are going to give them a free 15 yards.

  62. I’ll repeat the rule again: “It is NOT a foul if the defender swipes, wraps, or grabs a passer in the knee area, or below, in an attempt to tackle”. This may not even apply because Bradford handed the ball off and was “part of the play”.


    Yes he was actively cheering his running back going down the field. He’ll learn to pay attention to what’s going on around him because Suggs won’t be the last person that tries to cheap shot him this year.

  63. Doubt we’ll see the usual crew of Ravens trolls stirring it up on certain other AFC North teams’ boards after that humiliation last night. Oh man!

    Cap-eating Joe sure looked elite throwing all those picks. Any chance he ended up with a negative passer rating? Maxx Williams should be nicknamed the “Invisible Man.” (Seriously, what kind of idiots would waste a high pick on such a lumbering lump as Williams?)

    Looks like another third-place showing and this time no playoffs for the Bums from Baltimore.

  64. ampats shows up here about 30% of the time because Joe & the Ravens win the other 70% of the time

  65. This was not a read option play. It was a handoff from shotgun, period. Furthermore u can only hit a QB in the read option if he is carrying out the fake, which Bradford wasn’t doing because it wasn’t a read option play.

  66. Not illegal, but was dirty. Everybody knows what Suggs was trying to do. the shame is that if Bradford got seriously hurt, then his QB (Flacco) would get a cheap shot later. Tit for tat. Quid Pro Quo. Note that Bradford didn’t complain when the Ravens DT hit him in the gut later on, which was not a cheap shot, but a hard hit. He was going to tackle, not take a cheap shot – trying to maim a QB.

  67. jacktheraven says:
    Aug 23, 2015 5:41 PM

    I’ll repeat the rule again: “It is NOT a foul if the defender swipes, wraps, or grabs a passer in the knee area, or below, in an attempt to tackle”. This may not even apply because Bradford handed the ball off and was “part of the play”.
    Let’s say you’re correct and that was a legal tackle. It’d only be a legal tackle if Bradford had the ball but he had already clearly handed the ball offf. The rule you reference is a note for part e in Section 12 Rule 2 of the rulebook which says that no rushing defender can forcibly hit the QB in the knees even if the initial contact is above the knees. The NFL needs to clarify that as the two texts seem to directly contradict each other.

  68. DE can’t hit the opposing head coach with a hit, but the opposing qb is the next best thing. Get over it.

  69. I just watched that play and the replay 4 times in slow motion. His right shoulder pad went directly into Bradfords left knee.

    It wasn’t any kind of option play. It was a shotgun handoff. He received the snap, handed the ball off, and Suggs was looking at Bradfords front and empty hands. That is when he lowers his helmet and goes directly for the left knee. Blatant penalty, and blatant scumbag. If I could post pictures, I would take a pic of the still motion of Suggs going directly at knee level. No way is that a clean hit. Bradford is 3 seconds out of the play, making it a textbook penalty. Bradford never took a step as a runner, so any argument saying that is incorrect.

  70. jacktheraven says:
    Aug 23, 2015 6:18 PM
    ..because Joe & the Ravens win the other 70% of the time

    Hey, isn’t that about the same percentage of the cap Joe’s going to eat up this season?

  71. You’re right it was a legal hit, but Suggs’ intention was to take the knees out.

    I think Suggs probably did Bradford a favor mentally.

  72. I love the way all the armchair officials are agreeing that it was a legal hit when the officials called a penalty and all the other players were calling it a cheap shot. I would think the players and officials who are all right there watching the play and knowing the rules would know much more than ppl watching from their living rooms. It was an illegal hit that drew a penalty and unless they picked up the flag on that penalty and reversed it then IT’S A PENALTY people regardless of what you all say or how you interpret the rules.

  73. Suggs is a dirty player. But then again, they’ve had murderers playing for them so we cannot take one of their player’s analysis with any credibility.

  74. If a quarterback is going to act as a decoy, he’s going to get hit….. not a Suggs fan, but he was unfairly flagged.

  75. I agree, except Bradford did nothing to deceive suggs, he just handed off the ball and stood there. Just because a qb hands off out of the shotgun doesn’the make it a read option play. It would be stupid to run a read option with Bradford, Kelly doesn’t do it with him. Tebow yes, Bradford no. It was a straight handoff, watch again. No deception, no fakes, qb didn’t make a run move, nothing. And it’s besides the fact, Suggs went right for his knees. That in itself should be a flagrant foul.

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