The NFL’s quest for trying to make an inherently violent game safer is an admirable, albeit at times futile effort. One of the biggest points of emphasis has been getting rid of hits to the head, particularly when it comes to helmet-to-helmet contact or launching into someone’s head. Those penalties are very easy to understand, even if at times frustrating when it appears a defender had no intent but happened to hit a moving target in the wrong spot.
However, the protections for the quarterback, in particular, go far beyond those brutal hits and the result is often some highly controversial roughing the passer calls, particularly for “hits to the head” in which a player’s arm happens to strike a quarterback in the head accidentally and without considerable force. Those calls are made even worse when the flag gets thrown on contact up high but not even to the head.
On Sunday, the Saints were on the wrong end of one of those calls in Tennessee that led to a massive swing in favor of the Titans. A Ryan Tannehill interception in the end zone ended up getting called back due to this being called a hit to the head on Tannehill and roughing the passer.
This is embarrasing. A roughing the passer call on Tannehill that takes away an interception. What horseshit pic.twitter.com/hGp6A0bVOY
— Ollie Connolly (@OllieConnolly) November 14, 2021
It was such a poor call that even Gene Steratore joined the CBS booth and said it should hot have been a roughing call and that one of the other officials should’ve stepped in to have a conversation in order to pick up the flag. The Titans, gifted new life inside the 5, would go on to score a touchdown — after a pass interference call on third and goal — to take a 13-6 lead in a game that had been, otherwise, deadlocked in the first half.