Baltimore Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw was called for a controversial “roughing the passer” penalty on the third play of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ opening possession Thursday night that left many confused and incredulous.
How on earth could the hit have been roughing the passer when Upshaw nailed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the numbers for what should have been a sack? The real issue is that the word choice by the official announcing the penalty doesn’t really reflect the infraction.
Upshaw was penalized for leading with the crown of his helmet, which is a newer rule categorized as an unnecessary roughness violation.
The rule was passed in 2013 and it aims to prevent concussions by discouraging players from using the crown of their helmets when initiating contact.
The hit looked clean, but Upshaw dipping his helmet down when he made contact led to the penalty. Ultimately Baltimore got a turnover on the drive, which could be the game’s way of saying it was a bad call.
Video via GIFD Sports