Was it a dirty hit or an error on Flacco's part?
That's the big question Friday morning after Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco took a massive hit while sliding to get a first down from Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso during Thursday Night Football.
Omg Joe Flacco. Toss kiko for that. pic.twitter.com/s18bRdHrd5— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) October 27, 2017
Flacco, who's had a very bad 2017 season, turned on the jets in the second quarter when Alonso's shoulder came right to Flacco's head, immediately knocking his helmet off and cutting his ear.
Flacco was visibly dazed and confused and signaled to the sideline for assistance before picking himself up off the field and heading straight to the locker room, where he was put on concussion protocol and later ruled out.
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Ravens players, coaches and fans were not happy with Alonso, who they felt should have been ejected after the hit. Alonso was flagged for unnecessary roughness giving the Ravens a first down and eventually a touchdown.
So why not an ejection?
Some people feel it was clearly a dirty hit on Flacco while others, including some members of the TNF halftime crew, pointed out that Flacco slid a second too late considering a defensive player was coming towards him full speed.
Flacco isn't known for his elite sliding skills and he could have slid a bit sooner, but aren't QB's and concussions in general a big bullet point in league safety rules these days?
Per ESPN's Jamison Hensley's recent article, league rules state to "treat a sliding runner as they would a runner who is down by contact" and "pull up when a runner begins a feet-first slide," which Flacco appeared to do.
"If a defender has already committed himself...and the contact is unavoidable, it is not a foul unless the defender makes forcible contact into the head or neck area of the runner with the helmet, shoulder, or forearm, or commits some other act that is unnecessary roughness."
Alonso clearly led with his shoulder, but was it considered "flagrant" which would allow the refs to eject him?
That's were the difference in opinions lies.
That hit on Flacco is really bothersome. Truth is too many defenders would gladly take a measly 15 yard penalty to get rid of the QB.— Mike McCartney (@MikeMcCartney7) October 27, 2017
The hit on Flacco was brutal but could both players have avoided it with better decision making? That's hard to say in a live-action situation.
On one hand Flacco was trying to make a play for his team and on the other hand, Alonso claims he couldn't judge when Flacco was going to slide.
"That's out of my hands, man. ... It's a bang-bang play, and I hope he's all right," Alonso said. I truly do."
"When a guy slides, the target is very small. I just think it [Flacco's slide] was a second late, which is why I hit him, to be honest with you. At first I was anticipating I thought he was going to slide. And then it got to a point where I was like, 'I got to him,' because he slid too late."
Many quarterbacks avoid sliding for this very reason.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was visibly upset after his QB went down, running onto the field to try and confront Alonso.
When asked about the hit during the teams post-game press conference, Harbaugh said, "It was penalized correctly, I would say."
However, Ravens players felt the same in the locker room as the did on the field.
"If you mess with one of us, you got to mess with all of us," defensive tackle Bandon Williams said.
"We went out there and gave everything we had for Joe, the team, the coaches and Baltimore. We had to let everybody know that you can't just mess with one of us and know expect to get hit 53 more times."
There certainly is a gray area.
So, going forward how does the league explain what is the right call?
Different calls have been made in similar scenarios and it may be time for the league to tweak their rules to avoid future confusion and to maintain consistency.
Per NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, the league is reviewing the hit.