The NFL is reviewing the hit by Miami Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco during Thursday night’s game in Baltimore for a fine or possible suspension, a league official said Friday.
No decision had been made, but all disciplinary measures remained under consideration as of late Friday morning.
Flacco suffered a concussion and a cut on his ear that required stitches. He was sliding at the end of a first-half run when he was hit by Alonso. Alonso was penalized for the hit but was not ejected.
In comments after the game, Alonso called it a “bang-bang play” and said there was “no way” he could have avoided hitting Flacco because he had committed to the hit before Flacco began his slide.
“At first I was anticipating … he was going to slide,” Alonso said. “And then it got to a point where I was like, ‘I’ve got to hit him because he slid too late.’ ”
Alonso’s hit angered the Ravens. Their coach, John Harbaugh, exchanged words on the field with Alonso and the officials. After the game, Harbaugh said the hit was penalized “correctly” but declined to say whether he believed Alonso should have been ejected.
Under NFL rules, a sliding quarterback can be hit by a defender if the quarterback slides late and the defender already has committed to delivering the hit. But even then, the quarterback cannot be hit forcibly in the head. It does not necessarily have to be a helmet-to-helmet hit, and the defender’s intentions or aiming spot are not taken into account, under the rules.
The NFL’s rule-making competition committee recommended during the offseason that flagrant illegal hits result in the offending player being ejected by game officials or suspended by the league, even for a first offense. The competition committee wrote in its report that it “affirms that NFL Game Officials should maintain their current authority in the Playing Rules to eject a player for a flagrant hit to an opponent. The Committee also encourages the League office to suspend the offender, even for a first offense. Beginning with the 2017 season, flagrant fouls will be a point of emphasis, and for such fouls the player is subject to ejection and/or suspension for the first offense. Video examples of these flagrant hits will be provided prior to the season to further educate coaches and players.”
Chicago Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan was suspended for two games earlier this season for a hit on Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams. The suspension was reduced to one game on appeal. Minnesota Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo was suspended for one game for a hit on Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace.
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