In Which We Attempt to Understand Why Heyer Was Flagged on Thomas’ TD


This play seems to be the No. 1 topic of discussion in the aftermath of the Skins win yesterday: the touchdown pass from Campbell to Devin Thomas to put the Skins up by two TDs with 8:38 left to play, which was called back thanks to an unnecessary roughness penalty on Stephon Heyer. But having seen the replay several times (watch it at the 2:30-mark), we still have no clue why he was flagged. He made a legal block on Darnell Dockett while the play was still going on.

We’ve searched, but haven’t been able to find any answers to why the call was made, so let us attempt to get to the bottom of this ourselves:

The NFL’s use of hands rules state the following:

A player of either team may block at any time provided it is not pass interference, fair catch interference, or unnecessary roughness.

Okay, that doesn’t clear things up. So I suppose the definition of unnecessary roughness will help:

An illegal play where a player, in the judgment of the officials, uses tactics that are above and beyond what is necessary to block or tackle another player.

Alright, so now the flag starts to make some sense — the official must’ve somehow thought that Heyer blocking a defender was beyond what was necessary to protect the quarterback.  But here’s the problem with that: It’s fucking bullshit. Heyer hit Dockett in the chest, not in the head or from behind, while his back was turned to Campbell, who had scrambled out of the pocket. And the ball had not yet been thrown downfield when Heyer started the block. For all he knew, JC was still five yards behind him, looking for a receiver. In other words, Heyer was doing exactly what an offensive lineman is supposed to do: block defenders who wish to do harm to the QB.

So technically, yeah, Heyer did more than was necessary to block Dockett. But given the positioning of the two players and the fact that Campbell still had the ball, I don’t see how the official can throw the flag there. And by “don’t see how” I mean that I have never once seen that call made before in the countless hours I’ve wasted watching football in my lifetime.

13 thoughts on “In Which We Attempt to Understand Why Heyer Was Flagged on Thomas’ TD”

  1. I think it was the sheer violence (read: awesome brilliance) of Heyer’s hit. The ref saw some dude flying through the air as action around the LOS was coming to a stop and thought that something wrong had to have happened for this 285+ pound man to be flying horizontally through the air.

    I call it the Sean Taylor rule. If a hit looks violent, no matter how clean it is, throw a flag.

    I applaud Heyer for the play. He stood up for Portis, and I bet he put fear of sweet baby Jesus into Dockett.

  2. To Bucktown’s point about standing up for Portis: You can see Portis jumping up and down right when Heyer makes that hit, as if to say, “what now, bitch? Portis pocket’s straight.” Or something like that.

  3. This call was total BS. On the previous play, I noticed Portis and Dockett jawing with each other. I thought Heyer was paying Docket back for the trash talk and sticking up for his RB.

  4. There was a lot of crap that the tv watching fan had to deal with. Especially the announcing. God that jackass Darryl Johnson is a jackass. And so is Tony. They’re all just so terrible. I think we’ve also been called on an abnormal number of penalties that are very nitpicky. Heyer case in point.

  5. Rule # 1 when you play football as a kid… Never stand around watching the play or you’ll get the sh*t knocked out of you. Rule #2 Play till the whistle. BS call

  6. #1 It was a BS call

    #2 I think the Portis/Dockett beef carried over from their college days, and should be classified as FSU/”U” beef.

    Dockett has been fined many times for dirty plays.

    Dockett also says the team they play next week is “ten times better than the Redskins”so by that math, they will lose ten times worse than yesterday.

    The Cardinals never have won at FedEx, and that started in the first game ever here in 1997, when Frerotte was as real as he ever was.

  7. Football rules are getting ridiculous these days. Might as well put some flags on these guys and outlaw tackling all together.

    I do like to see that kind of attitude from Heyer though – nice to see him with a mean streak. We’ve gotten a certified diamond in the rough with him, and he’s gonna anchor our line for years to come.

  8. If this was a 15-yard penalty, then that tackle on Portis where he was bent back like Gumby should be a $7,500 fine and game suspension.

  9. I didn’t understand the call either. If anyone hears an ‘official’ explanation, I’d love to hear it. If anything it should’ve been a late hit on Okeafor.

  10. I still can’t believe that our Stephon “Urkel” Heyer made that block. Im not gonna lie when he got hurt earlier in the game I was so happy that Jansen would be coming in.

    NFL Officials should be rotated every couple of years and we should never have the same refs each year. There are too many people out there that could be a professional referee to keep these guys out there….

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