The NFL believes it missed a key penalty in Sunday’s game between Cleveland and Tampa Bay.
According to Cleveland.com, which cited an unidentified source, Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead should have been penalized for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and could face possible discipline as a result.
The play, which is under review after being sent to NFL vice president of policy and rules administration Jon Runyon, occurred in the fourth quarter and initially drew a flag before it was picked up by the officiating crew.
After a discussion, referee Shawn Hochuli announced “the quarterback is still a runner and therefore is allowed to be hit in the head. He had not yet begun his slide. There is no foul.”
The Bucs went on to earn a 26-23 victory in overtime.
The #NFL picked up this flag in the #Browns game after stating Baker had not yet begun his slide and therefore was “allowed to be hit in the head”🤔… Yet here is clear helmet to helmet head hunting. What a sham of a league. pic.twitter.com/DX3TwhoN0J
— Paul Congiusta (@ShiftyJuice) October 21, 2018
Mayfield was skeptical of the call and voiced his displeasure on Wednesday, adding that he wasn’t even aware of Hochuli’s ruling until after the game due to the stadium noise. Still, he acknowledged the lack of a call did not decide the game.
“No words,” Mayfield said during his media address. “Honestly, no words.
“It’s easy to point and blame certain calls during a game, but if we’re scoring points, we can take the refs out of the game. We can eliminate all those things to where we’re not counting on having a good call. We can do the things right to where none of that really matters.”
If the league finds the play should have resulted in a penalty, Whitehead could face a minimum fine of $26,739.
The Browns (2-4-1) will continue their road trip when they visit the Steelers (3-2-1) in Week 8, while the Bucs (3-3) head North to face the Bengals (4-3).