Steelers Wrong On Chop Block Rule

Pittsburgh players accused the Ravens of chop blocking. Not so, says the rule book.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Thursday, September 15th, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Categories: Mike Duffy, Week 1 vs Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton is claiming that he was routinely chop blocked by right guard Marshal Yanda in last week’s loss in Baltimore, but that was not the case.

According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, several Steelers complained that they were subject to the illegal play.

In addition, ESPN analyst Merril Hoge – a longtime Steelers running back – tweeted, “After watching the end zone copy of the coaching tape the ravens O line had several illegal chop blocks on steeled D that were never called.”

Hampton said he was cut by Yanda on the first play of the game, which turned out to be a 36-yard run by Ray Rice.

While chop blocks – where an offensive lineman situated more than one position away from the lineman who has initially engaged the defender delivers a low block – are illegal, Yanda could not have issued a chop block when Hampton was initially engaged with center Matt Birk. At guard, Yanda is only one position away.

“The block is absolutely legal,” Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s 100-percent legal, it’s 100-percent ethical, and there is no danger whatsoever in the way the block is being executed, because it’s in front.”

Pro Football Talk was sent the official rule from a league source: “On a running play, A1, an offensive lineman, chops a defensive player after the defensive player has been engaged by A2 (high or low), and the initial alignment of A2 is more than one position away from A1. The rule applies only when the block occurs at a time when the flow of the play is clearly away from A1.”

If a center takes on a defender up top, and the guards on either side of him takes out the defender’s legs, it is a legal play. For a tackle to go low on a player engaged by the center, that deserves a flag.

The Ravens were not penalized for any chop blocks during the entire 2010 campaign, and not one chop block was called on Baltimore in their 35-7 win over the Steelers.

“An argument could be made that the rules should be changed, for the same reason that some think the rule regarding low blocks against defensive backs in the open field should be adjusted,” wrote Mike Florio. “For now, however, the term ‘illegal chop block’ has a definition far more narrow than the Steelers will either realize or admit.”

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