Pittsburgh Steelers rookie outside linebacker T.J. Watt recorded his fifth sack of the season during the team’s Sunday night home win over the Green Bay Packers. However, while Watt certainly made a great decision on that play to rush Packers quarterback Brett Hundley after initially dropping into zone coverage in the middle of the field, many people, including NBC commentators Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, felt the team’s first round draft pick this year might should have been penalized for his subsequent helmet-to-helmet hit on the signal-caller that wasn’t flagged.
According to the NFL’s former vice president of officiating and current Fox Sports rules analysts Mike Pereira, Watt’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Hundley was “not a foul” because the quarterback had turned himself into a runner while in the act of scrambling, according to Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“Hundley is in a passing posture and is scrambling,” Pereira reportedly said. “He is no different than any runner at that point no matter where he is.”
Watt hitting Hundley with his helmet also wasn’t an illegal act, according Pereira.
“The only helmet-to-helmet foul would be if it were directly leading with the crown of the helmet,” Pereira said. “That was not the case here.”
By Friday afternoon we should know if Watt was fined by the NFL earlier in the week for his hit on Hundley. If not fined, that will obviously be proof that the league also doesn’t feel that Watt should have been flagged for the hit.
By the way, that hit by Watt was apparently a two-for-one as it reportedly ruined the rest of that late Packers offensive drive, according to Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy as it delayed the next play being called.