Senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron released the week 1 officiating video today (video below).
Among the numerous items to discuss, Riveron first discussed the defenseless player rule. In this particular play from Monday night, Vikings’ running back Dalvin Cook was attempting to catch a pass out of the backfield when he was hit helmet-to-helmet to by Saints’ linebacker Alex Anzalone. This is an automatic 15-yard penalty and first down for the offense. Defenders cannot hit players in a defenseless posture in the head or neck area.
Also from Monday night, a particular play was blown dead immediately when Broncos’ quarterback Trevor Siemian had his helmet ripped off his head by Chargers’ edge rusher Joey Bosa. The moment the helmet comes completely off, the play is blown dead by the nearest covering official and spotted where the ball carrier was at that moment. This spot is also reviewable.
In a two-fer that didn’t receive a flag for either incident, Jaguars’ linebacker Dante Fowler forced a fumble after he rushed off the edge and made contact with Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson. As Watson attempted to escape the pocket, Fowler jumped into the defender blocking him but made contact with Watson’s helmet with his arm while his leg made contact with the ball, dislodging from Watson’s grip. Both contacting the head of the quarterback and kicking the ball carry a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty or a 10-yard penalty and automatic first down, respectively. Even though Riveron said these were penalties, no flag was thrown during the play for either potential foul as they were deemed to have inadvertently happened.
The last time an illegal kick of a ball in player possession was the subject of discussion in a rules video may have been in a “You Make the Call” segment during the 1988 Super Bowl when Broncos’ quarterback John Elway had the ball kicked out of his hands by Redskins’ defensive end Charles Mann.
Lastly, from the Broncos-Chargers Monday night game, Riveron covered taunting late in the game as Chargers’ receiver Keenan Allen threw the ball at Broncos’ defensive back Chris Harris Jr. after he scored a touchdown. Allen received a foul for taunting that was assessed on the kick off. Taunting carries a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty and counts toward a player’s two unsportsmanlike penalty maximum prior to ejection from the game.