Saints-Cowboys officiating crew criticized after brutal blindside block penalty: ‘Worst call I’ve ever seen’


In the age of shooting and hyperbole, it’s easy to get swept up in the moment and declare something to be the “worst.” On Thursday night, many people were quick to point out that the Saints might have been hit by the worst penalty of the 2021 NFL season, and… in fact, they might be right on this one.

In the third quarter of New Orleans’ 27-17 loss to Dallas, Saints tight end Garrett Griffin was penalized for a blind block as he tried to protect quarterback Taysom Hill from Cowboys defensive back Jayron Kearse. Hill completed a pass to Deonte Harris for a first down but play was crushed by the flag, which pushed the Saints deep into their own turf. They kicked the ball three games later.

MORE: Playoff photo updated after Cowboys win over Saints

So what does the NFL consider a blind block? From the league rulebook:

It is a foul if a player initiates a block while his path is towards or parallel to his own backline and makes forced contact with his opponent with his helmet, forearm or shoulder.

Note: It is not a fault for a blind side block if the forced contact occurs in a “closed line play” before the ball leaves that area. The ball is not considered to have left that zone if the player taking the snap, either from a shotgun position or from the center, steps back into the pocket immediately or with a slight delay, and hands the ball to a other player, or run with the ball itself. This exception does not apply to any action other than a designed game. Any forced contact in “close-up online play” is still subject to the block crackback and peel back restrictions.

Saints coach Sean Payton clearly disagreed with Griffin’s interpretation of blocking, as could be seen on the Fox show yelling at anyone wearing stripes.

“It’s a terrible call,” Fox analyst Troy Aikman said. “I don’t blame Sean Payton. Just a terrible call.”

After the game, Payton told reporters he had not received an explanation for the penalty, apparently dodging questions in order to avoid a fine.

“I don’t really know this type of blockage in this situation”, Payton said.

Unlike Payton, not everyone in the NFL Twitterverse held back. Several former NFL players have criticized the officiating team, including longtime offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, who said the blind blocking penalty was the “worst call I have ever had. seen”.

Members of the media were also taken aback by the call.

That penalty wasn’t the only reason the Saints lost – Hill threw four interceptions, including a six-pick late in the fourth quarter – but it certainly didn’t help their cause.

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