Ball Don’t Lie: 3 worst calls from Week 9 in the NFL

Ball Don’t Lie: 3 worst calls from Week 9 in the NFL

Chicago Bears Justin Fields Matt Nagy

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields and head coach Matt Nagy (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Waiting until Tuesday for this report was the best decision I could’ve made. Unfortunately for the Chicago Bears, the ball lied on Monday night.

We could make the entire feature on bad calls from Bears-Steelers, but doing so feels like cheating in a way. Chicago lost to Pittsburgh by two points at Heinz Field on Monday night, despite the fact that Justin Fields played perhaps his most complete game as starting quarterback.

Taunting and roughing the passer are two of the more commonly-disputed penalties this season. The only appropriate way to begin a diagnosis of Week 9’s official brutality is to go over how those rules are supposed to look, in practice.

What is taunting in the NFL?

I do not agree with taunting in any sense. It feels like a fairly obvious motive by the NFL to limit player personality, which goes against the very financial motive Roger Goodell so often presses. I just…don’t get it in the slightest.

But, here’s how it’s supposed to look, per FanSided’s Jaleel Grandberry:

“Per the NFL’s rulebook, taunting is defined as “baiting or taunting acts or words that may engender ill will between teams.” The pretty vague definition carries stiff consequences. The initial call is a 15-yard penalty. If a player receives two taunting penalties he will be ejected from the game. After league offices review the incident, players can be fined and/or suspended.”

The league even sent out a video example before the season warning players and teams that they’d up the ante for the coming season.

Here’s the video sent out today stating that game officials have been instructed to strictly enforce taunting rules in games this season.

— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) August 10, 2021

Thus far, they have not lied.

What is roughing the passer?

Roughing the passer is great in practice. The issue is the consistency with which it is applied.

The following is from the NFL rulebook:

“Because the act of passing often puts the quarterback (or any other player attempting a pass) in a position where he is particularly vulnerable to injury, special rules against roughing the passer apply. The Referee has principal responsibility for enforcing these rules. Any physical acts against a player who is in a passing posture (i.e. before, during, or after a pass) which, in the Referee’s judgment, are unwarranted by the circumstances of the play will be called as fouls.”

Simple enough. Sadly, Week 9 provided even more example of inconsistency as it pertains to application.

The Titans and Ryan Tannehill benefitted greatly from a roughing call that would eventually help them defeat the Rams on Sunday Night Football.

When Aaron Donald is involved, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt. The defensive player of the year candidate knows a thing or two about following the rules by the book. Why would he commit such an act against Tannehill in a critical moment?

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