With 1 minute and 54 seconds remaining in the third quarter of the Bengals’ Week 1 win over the Colts, defensive end Carlos Dunlap had a strip sack on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. It was recovered by Clayton Fejedelem who ran it 35 yards to the Indianapolis four-yard line. Unfortunately, the ball was brought back to the Bengals’ 48 yard line due to a roughing the passer call on Dunlap. Bengals fans did not like it. And NFL analysts around the country didn’t like. it. Oh, and Dunlap definitely didn’t like it either.
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
“I planked and rolled off right away and I tried to let the referee know I was not trying to be malicious and drive him through the ground because I know it’s Andrew Luck after two years, so they’re going to call it tight regardless,” Dunlap said, via Katherine Terrell. “So I tried to do the next best thing. There was no other way for me to try to avoid him on the front side so on the back side I tried to keep my weight from driving him into the ground, which is the terminology they used.”
How are you supposed to sack a quarterback without using your body weight? That question remains unanswered, despite the NFL’s new rule indicating such tackling is not allowed.
From Mike Golic to Trent Dilfer, the NFL community spoke out about the highly questionable call on Dunlap. It was his second roughing the passer penalty in the game.
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
Carlos Dunlap personal foul on Luck. For making a football play.— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) September 9, 2018
Another ridiculous call on the Carlos Dunlap sack. Hits Luck straight on and tackled him. Flag for excessive weight. I’d like the NFL to explain how a DLineman is supposed to defy physics and move off line of gravity. Smh— Carp (@robcarpenter81) September 9, 2018
HOWEVER. That lame ass roughing the passer call on Dunlap, I have a problem with. Mother of god.— Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com (@SeanRossSapp) September 9, 2018
Awful roughing penalty on Bengals in Indy. Just awful.— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) September 9, 2018
Put red jerseys on the QBs if this is roughing the passer pic.twitter.com/SBznSzDJTK— Barstool Sports (@barstooltweetss) September 9, 2018
How is this roughing the passer? What is football anymore? RT @BrandonSaho: This was called roughing the passer. Carlos Dunlap was just flagged for this play. Yes, the referee threw a flag. pic.twitter.com/W6fGditBiT— Seth Morrison (@MorrisonSeth) September 9, 2018
So you can’t tackle QB’s from thighs down, chest up, land on them or touch their head . Am I missing anything?— Trent Dilfer (@DilfersDimes) September 9, 2018
Dunlap even replied to Dilfer.
Makes you want to come back and play now huh is what it is. I tried to avoid it and still play fast. https://t.co/rvKJ0mDxfa— Carlos Dunlap (@Carlos_Dunlap) September 9, 2018
Dunlap is breathing easy as the Bengals still won the game, but that play could have been a huge difference maker. The score was 23-17 in the favor of the Colts at the time. The Bengals would have had first-and-goal, if the play counted.
It’s tough man... almost cost us the game. That’s why I had to make up for it! Is what it is! 1-0 bro WhoDey!!! https://t.co/5mQXjCLr0i— Carlos Dunlap (@Carlos_Dunlap) September 9, 2018
Dunlap got a sack two plays later to show the officials who’s really boss.
Most importantly, the Bengals are 1-0, my friends!
That’s why i was so passionate after came through and made up for it!!!! https://t.co/xlKAVnfI56— Carlos Dunlap (@Carlos_Dunlap) September 9, 2018
Update (Monday 6:45 p.m. ET): The NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, Al Riveron, told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero that the call on Dunlap was correct and by the NFL rules.
Four flags thrown for players landing on quarterbacks -- on Atlanta’s Grady Jarrett, Cincinnati’s Carlos Dunlap, Minnesota’s Sheldon Richardson and New Orleans’ David Onyemata -- were correctly called as penalties under a longstanding rule that prohibits a player from landing on the quarterback with most or all of his body weight, which is an area of emphasis for officials this year.