With 10:40 left in the first quarter of Sunday’s game between the Washington Commanders and the Seattle Seahawks, Washington rookie cornerback Emmanuel Forbes was ejected from the game for this helmet-to-helmet hit on an incomplete pass from quarterback Geno Smith to receiver Tyler Lockett.
Emmanuel Forbes has been ejected for this hit on Tyler Lockett. Penalty yes, but an ejection???
— No Interference (@thenishow) November 12, 2023
Per the 2023 Official Playing Rules of the National Football League, there are multiple reasons for disqualification, and what Forbes did — an incidental helmet-to-helmet hit — does not rise to that level.
Repeat violation of general appearance.
Flagrant illegal contact with a player attempting a fair catch.
Flagrant unnecessary roughness, which includes:
a player of the receiving team who has gone out of bounds and blocks a kicking team player out of bounds during the kick. If this occurs on a kick from scrimmage, post-possession rules will apply if appropriate;
running, diving into, or throwing the body against or on a runner whose forward progress has been stopped, who has slid or taken a knee, or who has declared himself down by going to the ground untouched and has made no attempt to advance;
running, diving into, or throwing the body against or on any player on the ground either before or after the ball is dead;
throwing the runner to the ground after the ball is dead;
unnecessarily running into, diving into, or throwing the body against or on a player who (1) is out of the play or (2) should not have reasonably anticipated such contact by an opponent, before or after the ball is dead;
pulling an opponent off a pile of players in an aggressive or forcible manner; or
a kicker/punter, who is standing still or fading backward after the ball has been kicked, is out of the play and must not be unnecessarily contacted by the receiving team through the end of the down or until he assumes a distinctly defensive position. However, a kicker/punter is a defenseless player through the conclusion of the down.
There’s also impermissible use of the helmet. Here are the provisions there.
It is a foul if a player:
(a) lowers his head and makes forcible contact with his helmet against an opponent; or
(b) uses any part of his helmet or facemask to butt or make forcible contact to an opponent’s head or neck area. These provisions do not prohibit incidental contact by the mask or the helmet in the course of a conventional tackle or block on an opponent.
So, either the official on the field, or the crew in New York, had to decide that Forbes’ hit to Lockett was flagrant and not incidental. Forbes appeared to be leading with his shoulder; how he was supposed to change his launch angle with that timing when Lockett flew into his “hit zone” is a mystery.
Referee Alex Kemp, who’s been part of our “Worst of the Week” series more often than he’d probably like, will make it again after this call.