Not unlike most Cowboys fans, I was extremely displeased by some of the play of the Seattle Seahawks last night. We knew it would be a tough first half, given the third preseason game is typically the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season, but there were times where I thought Seattle got a little out of hand with their play.
Yes, we want to be physical and aggressive, but there's no reason to go beyond that, especially at the risk of hurting other players.
There were two plays in particular that come to mind when we talk about questionable play: Cliff Avril's hit on a sliding Tony Romo, and Kam Chancellor's hit on Ezekiel Elliott from seventeen yards and three hours after the ball had hit the ground, ending the play.
Obviously, this is hyperbole. But, I do think there's something to be talked about here.
The clip above shows the first play that I spoke of: the hit that knocked number 9 out of the game.
Let me just first say, I was on the road listening to this happen live as Brad Sham announced the game. As soon as he uttered the words “Romo's hurt,” I immediately put my head down and internally screamed “Oh. My. God.”
HOWEVER, there was certainly a little less dismay on my end than there's been in the past. Yes, the season would be over before it started, BUT, given Dak Prescott's recent play, I saw a slight glimmer of hope, instead of ALL seeming to be lost. But, I digress.
For anyone who doesn't know, as soon as the quarterback begins the process of the slide, he is down and the play is dead, making any contact after it technically illegal.
If you look at the play closely, and pause the shot as soon as Romo starts to slide, Cliff Avril is well into the process of the tackle. Stopping his momentum, and therefore the tackle, is impossible at this point.
Thus I firmly believe this was a clean hit, and just a bad break for Romo, and Cowboys Nation as a whole. Regardless, I'm glad they took him out for the rest of the exhibition.
The next play, the late hit on Ezekiel Elliott, is a little more controversial, depending on which team you side with.
It was interesting listening to the play called live on the Cowboys' app. When Kam hit Zeke, there was no doubt in Brad Sham's mind that the hit was late, flagrant, and illegal. He agreed with the call, and felt it was rightfully thrown. But, he's on the Cowboys' payroll.
Watching the broadcast this morning, however, was from the viewpoint of the Seahawks' announcers. Thus, they, of course, felt that the call was ridiculous. They felt since the ball was tipped at the line, Chancellor was fully within his rights to dish out the boom to the rookie running back, given that he likely would've caught it.
I will admit, at first glance, I sided with Seattle (I know, I know. Sorry…).
I thought, after watching it, that it was too close to a bang-bang play and I didn't think Kam had enough time to pull up from the hit. But then I watched it. And I watched it again. And I watched it a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth time.
If you watch just this play, you may think that the call could go either way, but I, and everyone else, watched the plays that led up to it, including this one:
And this one:
Haven't seen many backs do this to Kam…did it 2X in his first 8 plays pic.twitter.com/ufOnSbvQgw
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) August 26, 2016
Think there may have been a little bit of salt on Kam's end when he delivered that blow?
That notion was only solidified when the great @CowboysNation supplied me with this gem:
— Cowboys Nation (@CowboysNation) August 26, 2016
It's tough to see, but Chancellor is a good three yards away (Zeke is between the hashes and Kam is on the left hash, two yards up-field) when the ball hits the ground.
So, upon initial review, I genuinely thought that the play was clean, and that it just wasn't enough time for Seattle's all-pro safety to pull up from delivering the blow.
But, between the unexpected physicality that Zeke came out with, and the still-frame of the distance Chancellor had to cover to hit #21 on the play, I think the penalty was warranted, and accurately called.
The NFL is a game of inches. We all know this.
That doesn't just speak to the placement of the ball, but in this case, it speaks to distances between players before the tackle. Avril had very few of them between him and Romo when he began his tackle. Kam had far more.
And that's the difference between a 15-yard penalty, and just another tackle.