Personal foul in Commanders-Eagles was for lowering helmet

Philadelphia Eagles v Houston Texans
Getty Images

Early in the fourth quarter of last night’s game between the Commanders and Eagles, Philadelphia defensive back C.J.Gardner-Johnson drew a foul for applying a sideline hit to Washington receiver Curtis Samuel.

It appeared to be a penalty for a late hit. Referee Alex Kemp characterized it simply as a “personal foul.”

ESPN analyst Troy Aikman asked ESPN officiating analyst, and former NFL referee, John Parry about the call.

“Now, John, this was a bad call, am I right?” Aikman said.

“Yeah, he’s in bounds when that contact is initiated,” Parry replied.

Later, they revisited the foul. The focus continued to be whether Johnson hit Samuel late.

Here’s what Parry missed. It was a foul not for a late hit but for lowering the helmet and making forcible contact with an opponent. The NFL has confirmed to PFT that this was the reason for the foul.

In order to reduce confusion and/or tinfoil-hat suspicions that the fix is in, the officials needs to be more specific in situations like that; “personal foul” is too broad. The broadcast partners also need to know the rules well enough to realize what the call is, even if the officials don’t specify the violation.

The rule against lowering the helmet and making forcible contact continues to be sporadically enforced during games. Players routinely are fined for lowering the helmet and making forcible contact, even though flags aren’t thrown as often as they should be.

This year, the rule was changed to replace “initiate” with “forcible” in order to make it harder for players who are fined to prevail via an appeal that focuses on the meaning of “initiate.”

On Monday night, Johnson was flagged. He likely will be fined. It’s a rule that remains impractical and inconsistent with the basic nature of football. But this is one specific provision where the amalgamation of P.R., health/safety, and liability has resulted in a rule that makes it even harder for football players to play football.

And, given the inconsistent application of the rule, it often makes it harder for those who broadcast and watch the game to understand exactly what’s going on.

22 responses to “Personal foul in Commanders-Eagles was for lowering helmet

  1. You don’t really believe this explanation, do you? This is simply an effort, after the fact, to try to cover-up for what was a complete abomination by that crew. Can’t wait to hear their justification for not calling the worst face mask infraction of the season. Members of that crew should be fined – heavily.

  2. Gardner-Johnson hit was a brutal, but clean hit. But once the refs throw the laundry on a subjective penalty, the league circles the wagons to support their peeps

  3. This will never end. Refs need to be outsourced to foreign workers who have no affinity to any teams. That’s the only way for a ref to be truly neutral.

  4. The fact that nobody knew what the call was for, even after watching multiple slow motion replays means it’s a bad call.

    The fact the rule book is incomprehensible only helps cover up what the refs are doing.

  5. ‘The broadcast partners also need to know the rules well enough to realize what the call is, even if the officials don’t specify the violation.’

    I disagree that the onus should be on the broadcast partner to know what rule is being applied. It would be much clearer (and leave less room for ambiguity) if the referee would just announce the reason for the personal foul call so everyone will know what rule is being applied and for what reason, without relying on the someone in the broadcast booth guessing what the referee was thinking.

  6. Same thing happened in another game on Sunday when they called roughing the passer. The announcer went on for 5 minutes about how it wasn’t late until Gene came on and told him, what the rest of us knew, that it was because of his body weight. The rest need to explain more in the field for these stupid announcers.

  7. It’s not about tinfoil hats it’s about these people being awful at their jobs and never suffering any consequences for that. If that’s the explanation I don’t care if they said it during the game or after, it’s still a terrible call. Not as bad as missing the face mask call but still terrible.

  8. So, we are now complaining when the officials make the correct call? Nah. Let’s just focus on when they miss blatant calls. No need to be mad about everything.

  9. I thought the second Eagles guy to hit Samuel made a helmet-to-helmet hit that looked pretty obvious on tv.

  10. The fact that we’re still talking about penalties from the Eagles-Commanders game tells you everything about how bad the officiating was.

  11. I thought it was the helmet contact that was flagged at the time. I was surprised the announcers didn’t see/draw attention to it even if the wrong terminology was used.

  12. Terry Macauley, John Perrey, Dean Blandino-all terrible. Makes me appreciate Mike Perreira more-some people don’t like him but he has something that those other guys don’t have. He has the ability to reason.

  13. You’re right on this, including about having a better explanation from the ref. If you watch the replay, you can see that two different Eagles players make forcible contact with the helmet. It wouldn’t be a big deal if the broadcast team and rules analyst hadn’t been so emphatic that it wasn’t a foul when it was so obvious.

  14. Here’s the problem – the NFL isn’t being consistent even with lowering the helmet. In the KC game, within 15 minutes there were two hits on defenseless receivers where the NFL had commercial time DUE TO THE CONCUSSION INJURY to get it right, and they didn’t. Dre Greenlaw got ejected for a less egregious hit on Justin Herbert, except he was aiming properly and Herbert was thrown directly into his path. Then you have this Gardner-Johnson hit…

    Now, it’s important you mention that 80% of these questionable calls line up with imbalances of betting money. If 65% of the money is on the Packers to win (including the spread), then interestingly enough the calls seem to be biased against the Packers, and vice-versa.

    I don’t believe the NFL has any good leadership at all in the officiating ranks, including executive leadership. They’ve gutted the organization and filled it with league yes-men who provide zero accountability. And while it’s probably a great ego driver for an official to be in the postseason, they’re not getting penalized/fined/fired for egregiously bad calls. That needs to change.

  15. nothingbuttthetruth says:
    November 15, 2022 at 11:00 pm

    You don’t really believe this explanation, do you? This is simply an effort, after the fact, to try to cover-up for what was a complete abomination by that crew. Can’t wait to hear their justification for not calling the worst face mask infraction of the season. Members of that crew should be fined – heavily.

    Agree and gave you a thumbs up. Only wish I could have given 50 thumbs up.

  16. Actually happened twice on same play… First defender hit helmet to helmet and the second player too. Good call

  17. I don’t like either team but he was on the ground gave himself up and still got hit good. The dude crawling to get him just need to tag him not smash into him. Easy call. Don’t leave the game in the ref’s hands. I say that as a lions fan who watches his team on the wrong side of calls, weirdo rules, missed calls etc every week.

  18. For all the Philadelphia Team fans that keep crying about the refs… You’re 8-0 vs a 4-5 team. Just soundly beat them so the refs can’t “decide” the game for you… How ’bout that???

  19. Screw that call. It was a bad call but that same player grabbed himself an interception a couple plays after anyway…

    How about the other two ref blunders of that game. A criminal NO CALL on an OBVIOUS face mask that injured the pro bowl caliber TE for AT LEAST 4 games and caused his fumble that they had no issues handing to Washington.

    How about the stupid flag at the end of the game on the DE for sliding into the QB who took a knee but then was getting up? Hell the DE even tried letting up. It was a joke and cost the eagles of any chance to come back by awarding Washington a first down.

    Now look…. The eagles came out playing like crap (a result of having a bye week followed closely by another mini bye week as well as being undefeated). They just were not sharp. HOWEVER… Eagles sure looked like they were very much capable of overcoming and handling an inferior Washington team in the end but JESUS just to many red blunders to overcome. UNACCEPTABLE.

  20. To all the idiots saying “don’t leave it in the refs hands”…

    More games are decided by one score now than at any other time in NFL history. MOST GAMES played every Sunday are indeed… “in the refs hands”.

    The refs decide almost every game based on their calls. It’s why I wonder why we even watch this product anymore. Give me sound officiating from someone up above with clear video footage and replays PLEASE. Don’t leave it up to obvious human error.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.