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This Harrison Smith 'hit' on RG3 is your worst penalty of the week

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When a misapplied attempt to protect the quarterback goes too far and handcuffs the defense, you end up getting Stephen White's worst call of the week.

Another week, another laughable flag thrown on a hit on a quarterback.

This week the play happened in the Vikings win over Washington. With about 7:44 to go in the third quarter, Washington was facing a third-and-1 on the Minnesota 24-yard line. The Vikings were up at the time, 14-10, and of course needed to try to make a stop to force a field goal so they could retain the lead. Washington lined up in a pistol backfield set and ran the read option to their right with quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Now, RGIII is a guy who has come out and said he actually baits opposing defenders into getting penalized for hits on him. You would think the referees would hear that and make sure that they were absolutely sure that a hit on Griffin was indeed illegal before throwing a flag, especially since the penalty of 15 yards is so severe.


(GIF via CJZero)

RGIII tried to run wide on the Vikings' defense, but safety Harrison Smith did a great job of fighting off tight end Jordan Reed's block and was there to contain him. At the very last second, right before Harrison hit him, Griffin turned upfield in Smith's direction and slid. At that point, Smith was basically committed to the hit, but he still turned his body so that only his shoulder would make contact. What a huge play for that defense, right?



The stupid referee threw a flag on the play. Here's the worst part -- the ref announced that Smith was flagged for unnecessary roughness for a "blow to a sliding quarterback's head." The problem with that is the replay CLEARLY SHOWED HE DIDN'T MAKE CONTACT WITH GRIFFIN'S HEAD!

His shoulder hit RGIII's shoulder while he was sliding -- that's it. Hell, the commentators didn't even know what to say after the slow-motion replay was shown (FOX's Mike Pereria disputed the flag):

Mind you, as one of the commentators pointed out, the rules are supposed to change when the quarterback runs a read option-type play. They are supposed to be considered a runner, and so the normal quarterback rules supposedly don't apply anyway.

I swear man, what in the hell is Smith supposed to do there?! Oh, and of course Washington scored a touchdown on the very next play. At some point the NFL is going to have to stop punishing defensive players for simply doing their damn job.

I won't hold my breath, though.