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NFL believes illegal-hit call on Redskins’ Chris Culliver was correct

Chris Culliver, here defending Devin Funchess on a touchdown catch, was involved in a controversial play on Sunday. (Ricky Carioti/ The Washington Post)

The NFL believes that the game officials made the correct call Sunday in penalizing Washington Redskins defensive back Chris Culliver for an illegal hit on Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, according to a person with knowledge of the league’s view.

“I think the conditions of the rule were met,” the person said Monday, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the NFL was not commenting publicly on the play.

[Watch the Culliver play that was ruled a penalty]

The call nullified a Redskins touchdown on Culliver’s return of an interception on a pass deflected by Olsen. Some Redskins players and other observers were sharply critical of the call. But others said it was not responsible for the Redskins’ lopsided defeat to the unbeaten Panthers.

NFL rules prohibit a defender from making forcible contact to the head or neck area of a receiver who is in the process of attempting to make a catch. That, by definition, makes the receiver a defenseless player under NFL rules, and affords him protection from being hit in the head by a defender’s helmet, shoulder or forearm.

[Bog: Chris Cooley says Culliver call was worst in the NFL this season]

The rules apply even when a receiver ducks his head or when the initial contact of the defender’s hit is below the head or neck. The rules place the burden on the defensive player to avoid such contact.

More from The Post:

Mike Jones’s five observations from the loss in Carolina

Snap counts against Panthers: CB/S Hall plays only six snaps

Outsider: A closer look at the Redskins’ poor red-zone defense

Brewer: Hard to take Redskins seriously until they win on the road

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