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Dirk Koetter: Taunting flag picked up on Baker Mayfield after illegal hit

Browns Mayfield Hit Football

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Jordan Whitehead (31) hits Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. A person familiar with NFL discipline says Tampa Bay safety Jordan Whitehead is expected to be fined for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. Whitehead struck a sliding Mayfield in the fourth quarter and should’ve been flagged for unnecessary roughness or unsportsmanlike conduct, said the person who spoke Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the league has not commented on calls from last week’s games. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)


Hue Jackson said the NFL confirmed officials erred in not calling a penalty on Bucs safety Jordan Whitehead for a hit on Baker Mayfield. But Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said the Browns quarterback taunted Whitehead, which would have offset Whitehead’s penalty.

Further, Koetter said officials picked up two flags -- not one -- after initially ruling an illegal hit on Whitehead and taunting on Mayfield. In his on-field announcement, referee Shawn Hochuli mentioned only that officials were picking up a flag on Whitehead because “the quarterback was still a runner and therefore is allowed to be hit in the head. He had not yet begun to slide.”

The NFL’s official play-by-play of the game mentions nothing of offsetting penalties either, but Mayfield did jaw at Whitehead after the play.

“I did not get a great explanation for that,” Koetter said Wednesday, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “What they said on the field was it’s a helmet-to-helmet hit, and then [Mayfield] got up and taunted our guy, so then they threw the second flag. Somehow, they worked it out that they were picking up both flags. Where I was on the field, I didn’t see it as a helmet-to-helmet [hit]. But when you look at it on tape, it clearly was, and I guess the fallout from that is what it is.”

An NFL source said officials did not throw a flag for taunting.

Mayfield scrambled for 35 yards and, as the quarterback began to slide, Whitehead dove at Mayfield helmet first.

There is no doubt the league will fine Whitehead for an illegal hit. It remains to be seen whether they will dock Mayfield.