NFL: Officials got Myles Garrett roughing call on Ben Roethlisberger wrong on critical play

The NBA provides what’s called a last-two-minute report that analyzes the closing moments of games and often points out officiating mistakes made in critical moments.

The NFL does not have this. What it does have is NFL vice president of officiating Al Riveron using NFL Network to call out his officials.

Riveron: Myles Garrett didn’t rough Ben Roethlisberger

Riveron did so on Monday and admitted that Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett should not have been flagged for roughing Ben Roethlisberger on a crucial third-down play in the red zone of Sunday’s 21-21 tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On the play, Garrett pressured Roethlisberger and hit him shortly after he released the ball on an incomplete pass. Officials flagged Garrett for roughing, claiming he put his body weight on Roethlisberger while driving him to the ground, which would constitute roughing.

The NFL tried to explain how officials are expected to parse whether Myles Garrett is using some or “most or all” of his body weight on a tackle. (Getty)
The NFL tried to explain how officials are expected to parse whether Myles Garrett is using some or “most or all” of his body weight on a tackle. (Getty)

Riveron: Garrett used some, not “most, if not all” of his body weight

Riveron told NFL Network that Garrett did not put enough of his body weight on Roethlisberger and should not have been flagged.

“The rule specifically says ‘most, if not all, of your body weight,’ ” Riveron said. “So we want that player to make an effort. And the last three or four weeks, we have pulled extensive video to show the clubs exactly what we’re talking about, and we probably last week showed five to one or six to one of legal hits, or legal contact, as opposed to illegal contact. Because the question we get all the time is, well, what do you want our players to do?

“Well, they have to not put the weight on the quarterback. And this one yesterday showed, even though there is some body weight on Ben, this is not what we would consider contact that rises to the level of a foul.”

The Steelers went on to score a touchdown on the drive. In a 21-21 game, that’s the kind of call that can legitimately be called a game changer.

Legislating NFL violence an often confusing task

The call and Riveron’s criticism of it speaks to the challenge facing players and officials in the NFL.

The standard set for a player to decide in the heat of the moment if he’s putting “most if not all” of his body weight on a quarterback during a tackle in real-game time is absurd. Also absurd is asking officials to determine whether said player put “most if not all” of his body weight on a player during a tackle, then pointing out that the official got it wrong the next day with the benefit of slow-motion replay and time to think about it.

While this incident is not an example of the new helmet rule that led to mass confusion during the preseason — the body weight rule has been on the books for years — it’s in the same neighborhood.

The NFL is continually attempting to legislate the nuances of violence in a game that is inherently violent, often making the game confusing and frustrating for players, officials and fans in the process.

While it’s done with the with the noble goal of player safety, chaos — not player protection — is often the end result.

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