Debate It! Have NFL Rules For Protecting Quarterbacks Gone Overboard?

Three roughing the passer penalties were called in Sunday’s game, including two against the Ravens.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, October 5th, 2009 at 11:59 am | Categories: Debate It!, Sarah Ellison

Have NFL rules for protecting quarterbacks gone overboard?

The controversy over the roughing the passer penalties in the Ravens’ 21-27 loss to the Patriots is well documented. The Ravens were called twice for roughing the passer, resulting in 30 yards in penalties. The Patriots were also flagged once for 15 yards on a hit to QB Joe Flacco. Yesterday’s penalties made many question whether NFL rules for protecting quarterbacks have gone overboard.

Below is the “Protection of the Passer” rules as posted in’s Rule Book:

By interpretation, a pass begins when the passer — with possession of ball — starts to bring his hand forward. If the ball strikes ground after this action has begun, play is ruled an incomplete pass. If passer loses control of ball prior to his bringing his hand forward, play is ruled a fumble.

1. When a passer is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional movement forward of his arm starts a forward pass. If a defensive player contacts the passer or the ball after forward movement begins, and the ball leaves the passer’s hand, a forward pass is ruled, regardless of where the ball strikes the ground or a player.

2. No defensive player may run into a passer of a legal forward pass after the ball has left his hand (15 yards). The Referee must determine whether an opponent had a reasonable chance to stop his momentum during an attempt to block the pass or tackle the passer while he still had the ball.

3. No defensive player who has an unrestricted path to the quarterback may hit him flagrantly in the area of the knee(s) or below when approaching in any direction.

4. Officials are to blow the play dead as soon as the quarterback is clearly in the grasp and control of any tackler, and his safety is in jeopardy.

What do you think, have NFL rules for protecting quarterbacks gone overboard? Debate It!

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