The NFL is trying to protect its quarterbacks, often above all else. This point of emphasis leads to a fair amount of false positives when it comes to roughing the passer calls, as was evident last week. Referees are going to err on the side of calling Roughing the Passer if it looks close, and on bang-bang plays, lots of things can look close.
This as you can imagine, has become quite a nuisance for defensive players and coaches. Just when you think your team has just successfully stopped a drive with a big third-down play and a flag mysteriously appears, causing you to curse the gods and claim it’s the worst call of the year.
With that in mind, here are 10 of the absolutely worst roughing the passer penalties of the season thus far.
10. Wallace Gilberry on Cam Newton, Week 6, Carolina at Cincinnati
9. Jason Hatcher on Eli Manning, Week 4, New York Giants at Washington
8. Corey Liuget on E.J. Manuel, Week 3, San Diego at Buffalo
7. Patrick Willis on Drew Stanton, Week 3, San Francisco at Arizona
6. Eugene Sims on Tony Romo, Week 3, Dallas at St. Louis
5. Jason Worilds on Matt Ryan, Week 15, Pittsburgh at Atlanta
4. Jo-Lonn Dunbar on Josh McCown, Week 2, St. Louis at Tampa Bay
3. Sio Moore on Carson Palmer, Week 7, Arizona at Oakland
2. D.J. Swearinger on Robert Griffin III, Week 1, Washington at Houston
1. Nick Moody on Russell Wilson, Week 15, San Francisco at Seattle
This one takes the cake, given the call and the situation. Seattle was up 10-6, in the fourth quarter, near the goal line on third down. Without this call, Seattle would have been attempting a field goal and San Francisco would have stayed within a score.
First, Ed Hochuli’s explanation:
“I felt he hit the quarterback [Russell Wilson] in the chest with the hairline [of his helmet]. It’s a foul unless his head is completely up and would hit him face on with his face mask, so that’s why I called it. After you hit, the face mask comes up. That’s the mechanics of the body, but that wasn’t the initial contact. The hairline [of the helmet] is still a foul when you hit the quarterback with that part of your head.”
Of course, the NFL came out and actually said it was a bad call, so you know, at a time where they want everything called, this one gets the title.