The NFL acknowledges that Tampa Bay Buccaneer's safety Jordan Whitehead should be penalized for a strike on Cleveland Brown's quarterback Baker Mayfield on Sunday, a source familiar with the League's mindset, which said on Tuesday.
Whitehead could be for one of two violations: unnecessary roughness for slapping the head of a sliding player or unsportsmanlike behavior for using his helmet to beat a player, the source said.
The numbers show that Mayfield sometimes fights, but also the other freshman QBs. And the statistics do not tell the whole story.
The NFL does not comment on the hit. Fines are usually announced on Fridays. If the league punishes Whitehead, it will be public confirmation that the game should have been punished.
The hit came in the Bucs 26-23 overtime win on Sunday. Mayfield slipped at the end of a 35-yard run on the second and 26th in the fourth quarter. Shortly after Mayfield's knee hit the ground, Whitehead's helmet struck Mayfield's head.
Whitehead lowered his head to make the hit and used the crown of his helmet. Both are textbook examples of what the league does not want and are included in the descriptions of hits that could result in a player being ejected.
Officials initially reported the game, but after a conference, referee Shawn Hochuli announced that the flag would do so
"The quarterback was still a runner and may therefore be hit in the head," Hochuli said Amount. "He had not started to slip yet."
Mayfield was withheld on the Tampa Bay 41-yard line with 7:47 left and the Browns with 23-16. A 15-yard penalty would have put the Browns on the 26. The Browns pulled on the 1 on the Bucs, but failed in a quarterback sneak.
When Mayfield began to slip, it was a verdict; There are no blows to the head. Sliding players are protected by the League rule from punches to the head. The League knows that, according to one source, the punishment should have been called.
"There's a lot of stuff to protect the quarterback," Mayfield said after the game. "It does not look like the Browns are getting a lot of calls, but they can check it out, and they can say I was a runner, but I started my slide, which is helmet-helmet contact."
Brown coach Hue Jackson said after the game that he did not understand why the flag was picked up. Other players complained. On Monday, Jackson said the team would ask the League for clarification.
"That was disappointing," Jackson said. "That's all I can say."