Hank Poteat Hasn't Learned Much in Eight Years

A Lions player held claim to what was the most embarrassing rule oversight by a player last season with Dan Orlovsky's scramble out of the back end of his own end zone for a safety, so in a way maybe it's fitting that one of the more inane moves seen on the field this year would propel them to a victory. ↵

↵At the end of a Browns-Lions game that proved to be far more enthralling than anyone expected, Cleveland held a 37-31 lead when Matt Stafford launched a Hail Mary that was intercepted by Brodney Pool, presumably to end the game. Except defensive back Hank Poteat decided to shove Lions receiver Bryant Johnson (not to be confused with Calvin Johnson) out of bounds while the ball was in the air, drawing a flag that gave the Lions the ball on the one-yard line. One play and a Willis Reed moment by Stafford later: Lions win. ↵

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↵And while Chris Mortensen noted that players are taught to do what Poteat did while a quarterback is out of the pocket (as Stafford was) that obviously ceases to apply once the ball is in the air. It's possible that Poteat simply didn't bother to glance back toward the line of scrimmage to see whether the ball had been thrown, but that doesn't make the mistake any less excusable, especially for a guy who's in his eighth year in the league and has been coached by canny defensive coaches such as Bill Cowher and Bill Belichick. ↵

↵Because there are so many bodies huddled together for what is essentially a jump ball, the officials allow more contact on a Hail Mary than they usually would on any other pass play, so someone really has to make a boneheaded play to get flagged in that scenario. Just think how costly Poteat's mistake would have been if the Browns actually had something to play for. ↵

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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