While the NFL world is still debating the non-call from Monday Night Football, Dean Blandino, the NFL's vice president of officiating, said San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks’ personal foul penalty against New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was the correct penalty.
Brooks laid a brutal hit across the top of Brees' shoulder pads, which caused a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Patrick Willis late in that game. San Francisco, which had a three-point lead, was poised to take possession near midfield with 3:12 remaining.
Instead, Brooks received a 15-yard personal foul penalty because he hit Brees in the neck.
Even though Brooks initially hit Brees in the chest, Blandino said once the defender’s arm rose and struck the quarterback’s neck, it was a penalty.
“The quarterback, in the act of passing, or in the passing posture, is defenseless,” Blandino said during an interview on the NFL Network. “You can’t make forcible contact to the head or the neck area. Even if the contact starts below the neck and rises up, if there’s force to that contact, it’s a foul.”
New Orleans eventually pulled off a 23-20 victory, and Brees agreed with the penalty during his press conference on Tuesday.
“Again, I don’t think what Ahmad Brooks did was intentional at all,” Brees said (via the team’s website). “I think he’s a heck of a football player and a clean football player. A hardnosed, clean football player. You look at the result of that, and again it’s in real time, we can slow it down all you want and watch it and say, ‘Oh, look where the…’ But I can tell you how it felt when I got hit. It felt like my head got ripped off and I get up and I’ve got a mouth full of blood. There was no doubt in my mind that it was going to be a penalty.”
Brees was correct in his assessment, but some NFL observers still believe the league is wrong for shortening the strike zone intended for defenders.
- - - - - - -