Why the horse collar penalty on the Vikings was wrong

Lamar jackson

The Minnesota Vikings had a very reasonable chance of thwarting the Baltimore Ravens on the road in Week 9 but failed, losing 34-31 to the other Purple team. The team were on the mark for their 2021 antics, scoring in the first practice while maintaining palpable hope that the game would break in their favor. Then, when it mattered most, the defense collapsed due to fatigue, due to an upside down possession time gap.

Make no mistake, Mike Zimmer’s side deserved to lose – as they do with all losses this season.

But the tone of the game could have been very different on the first ride. Instead, a failed call went wrong on the Ravens’ side, allowing Lamar Jackson and his friends to move on.

Second-year EDGE rusher DJ Wonnum – who replaces Danielle Hunter for the rest of the way – dragged the 2019 NFL MVP to the ground and the football squirted. It was picked up by the Vikings, and a happy tone was set by Minnesota.

And then the flag hit the grass.

The referees called a penalty for horse collar tackle – first against Baltimore. Yes caramba.

This so-called offense changed the course of the first quarter and ultimately the game. Wonnum’s tackle was not a Doubtful was not interpretative either.

here is how the NFL defines the collar tackle rule, made famous by the old NFL Safety Roy Williams:

The rule – “No player shall grasp the inside of the back collar or the side of the shoulder pads or shirt, or take the jersey to the nameplate or above, and pull the runner to the ground ”- even emboldened in the text, explains Wonnum’s penalty fallacy.

Wonnum didn’t enter “at nameplate or above”. Watch the video again. Watch it a few times. His grip is on the numbers, dragging Jackson to the ground. It’s a tackle, not a personal foul.

If Wonnum had ripped Jackson off the jersey where the garment reads JACKSON, it would have been a 15-yard penalty. Wonnum didn’t do that. The tackle was clean and a turnover was forced. Vikings Ball.

The problem in recent seasons for controversial calls is how a game looks with the naked eye. If a hit or tackle “looks bad” or “seems violent”, the flag appears. There is no nuance, and the NFL bans penalty reruns.

More egregious penalties were handed down in 2021 – usually of the rough-the-pass variety – but this one changed the course of a match from the start.

Jackson was legally attacked. The fumble was legitimate. Minnesota has recovered. The officials had other plans.

It is not debatable.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. Its Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Guilty pleasures listed: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, “The Sopranos” and The Doors (the band).

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Elizabeth J. Harless