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Was Colt McCoy a Ball Carrier On James Harrison’s Illegal Hit? (Animated)

Before you get all flustered and accuse me of saying James Harrison is a clean player, just hear me out.  No, I would never support a player who does stuff like this and this on a regular basis and has a reputation for playing like an absolute maniac.  However, the penalty — and potential fine or suspension — that was called on Harrison during Thursday night’s game between the Steelers and Browns brings up an interesting point.  At what point does the quarterback become a ball carrier?  You can see a video of the play at NFL.com here, but here is an animation of the actual shot that drew a flag, courtesy of @bubbaprog:

Colt McCoy got off a pass at the last second, but Harrison was already charging after him once he tucked the ball in and started running with it.  Does the fact that McCoy decided to change his mind and throw it at the last second mean he at no point became a ball carrier?  As we know, a running back or a receiver who has already established himself can be hit using helmet-to-helmet contact.  Harrison will likely draw a six-figure fine and possibly a suspension because of his reputation, but this particular play qualifies as a gray area in my opinion.


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  • http://twitter.com/lorileeky Lori Lee

    That is called spearing with the helmet and as far as I know…never permitted.