Randall Cobb knee injury highlights defenders’ dilemmas on going low, or high

Eric Edholm
Shutdown Corner

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb was carted off after suffering a knee injury from a low hit by Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam.

It was one of those plays that Elam, a rookie, likely was darned if he did, darned if he didn't.

At first blush, you could say Elam's hit was dirty — it was aimed at Cobb's knee, which could have serious repercussions. Cobb was carted off the field and ruled out for the remainder of the game.

But what's a safety to do there? If he makes contact too high, it's a penalty. Go too low, and he's labeled a dirty player a handful of games into his career.

Elam chose low. There was no penalty. But there might be a fine this coming week. The NFL is a fickle sport, with nebulous rules and interpretations of rules, unwritten or not. Elam was looking out for himself, trying to make the play, and he probably did the right thing. But he still did wrong. Right?

Elam probably made a bad decision when he later had words with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers after the play, although it had unintended positive results for his team. Interestingly, Packers right tackle Don Barclay came to Rodgers' rescue but was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for pushing Elam. And strangely, had the penalty not occurred, the Packers — who were out of timeouts in the half — would have been hit with a 10-second runoff. They were not, instead losing 15 yards, and Mason Crosby missed the ensuing field-goal attempt.

Earlier in the game, the Packers lost James Jones, who also was ruled out for the remainder of the game. Losing two of their top wideouts was a huge blow for the Packers, although they certainly fared well without them.

But Elam's low hit can be filed into what has been a very interesting and buzzy topic in the NFL this season: Better to go high or low? There might not be a right answer. Defenders only seem to lose in these situations, and given that Cobb was hurt on this hit, it seems that everyone lost Sunday in Baltimore.

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