Originally Posted by bkight13
Once the WR becomes a runner and can defend himself, the helmet to helmet rule doesn't apply. It was closer to a fumble than a penalty.
I realize that but I don't think he established possession as a runner or can be viewed as beyond the "defenseless" aspect.
The fact that it was ruled incomplete means that he didn't have possession long enough to be considered a runner.
I'm not sure where they would actually draw the line in this particular play but if the WR doesn't have time to establish possession, I don't see how he can have enough time to actually be considered beyond the defenseless aspect.
I think you bring up a good point about the fumble aspect of it.
IMO, with the way the rules are set I don't see how it can't be either a fumble or penalty.
If we say he established possession and therefore a penalty is not in play, it's a fumble.
If it's not a fumble because he didn't establish possession, and in this case without bobbling it at all which means he didn't have time to make a football move, how is not a penalty?
The only reasonable explanation is that there's some ridiculously small amount of time between losing the protection of being defenseless and having the ball long enough to be considered in possession and Crabtree was hit in that window.
Honestly though, how big could this window possibly be? Hundredths of a second? I think that's a bit much to ask officials to differentiate. With the emphasis on safety, we're expecting these guys to distinguish between hits to that sort of degree?
Here's the defenseless receiver description in the rulebook.
"Has not clearly become a runner"
I just don't see how it could be neither. If he had clearly become a runner, that's a fumble. But since it was ruled incomplete, obviously they didn't think that was the case which pretty much has to mean it's a penalty. The contact to the head is as blatant as it gets.
I think it was a penalty. Whether or not it wasn't might be up for debate but looking at the rules I don't see how anyone can say the right call was made. It doesn't seem possible for it not to be a fumble or a penalty.