Myles Garrett finally got his chance to face Ben Roethlisberger Sunday. He also got the chance to lose his team 15 yards for his inability to defy the laws of gravity.
Garrett brought the pressure that appeared to squelch a Steelers’ second-quarter drive, flushing Roethlisberger to his left and tackling the veteran quarterback a split-second after he uncorked an incomplete pass in the direction of Justin Hunter. But officials flagged the Browns’ star pass rusher after the play — not for a late hit, but for violating a new rule that requires defensive ends and linebackers to bend the laws of physics in the name of protecting passers.
Terrible rule RT @OllieConnolly: Roughing the passer call on Myles Garrett. Landed on Roethlisberger with his body weight. A fourth down stop turned into a touchdown the very next play. pic.twitter.com/XkadnZCdx1— GoPackGo (@DonP757) September 9, 2018
Garrett got hit with a roughing the passer penalty for landing with his body weight on Roethlisberger, extending a Pittsburgh drive that would have otherwise segued into a short field goal attempt with that third down incompletion. Instead, James Conner turned first-and-goal into a seven-point Steeler lead the very next play.
What’s this new roughing the passer rule?
The protective wrinkle that nabbed Garrett Sunday is a new rule for 2018.
A rushing defender is prohibited from committing such intimidating and punishing acts as “stuffing” a passer into the ground or unnecessarily wrestling or driving him down after the passer has thrown the ball ... When tackling a passer who is in a defenseless posture (e.g., during or just after throwing a pass), a defensive player must not unnecessarily or violently throw him down and land on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight. Instead, the defensive player must strive to wrap up the passer with the defensive player’s arms and not land on the passer.
Basically, it means defensive players can still tackle quarterbacks, they just can’t land on top of them. It was enacted in response to a single play from 2017, when Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr hauled down a scrambling Aaron Rodgers in Week 6 and snapped his collarbone with the full weight of his 255-pound frame.
While the new regulation was made with good intentions, it’s already drawn its share of criticism midway through Week 1. Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap was flagged for it against Andrew Luck, much to his understandable displeasure:
This was called roughing the passer. Carlos Dunlap was just flagged for this play. Yes, the referee threw a flag. pic.twitter.com/SSNLi7guDZ— Brandon Saho (@BrandonSaho) September 9, 2018
The Falcons’ Grady Jarrett was the first player to officially run afoul of the new rule in Thursday’s season opener in Philadelphia:
I expect to see a TON of these calls this season pic.twitter.com/2q7DvDtiW7— Prime Bam Childress (@fearthe_beard11) September 7, 2018
Fans and analysts weren’t happy with the call Thursday:
15 yards for tackling the passer— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) September 7, 2018
NFL wants defensive players to alter the laws of physics in mid air with these new rules.— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) September 7, 2018
And they weren’t happy about it Sunday afternoon, either:
This play was flagged on Myles Garrett. Horriblepic.twitter.com/Eeug1VFMcm— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 9, 2018
Such a bad penalty by Myles Garrett. That "landing on the QB" flag on 3rd down extends drive, now Pitt TD. Shaky whistle, as Garrett didn't take any extra steps. Ugh— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) September 9, 2018
Hate it hate it, Dunlap put both hands out when sacking Luck, full weight not on QB.... absolutely disagree with this— Mike Golic (@espngolic) September 9, 2018
Awful roughing penalty on Bengals in Indy. Just awful.— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) September 9, 2018