The Browns were victims of a controversial NFL rule in their divisional round playoff game against the Chiefs on Sunday, on a play that resulted in a 10-point swing in favor of Kansas City.
Lost in the argument of whether fumbles should result in touchbacks, however, was this: Did Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen commit a penalty for helmet-to-helmet contact on the hit that dislodged the ball from Rashard Higgins’ grasp?
Here’s a closer look at the play:
With the play slowed down, it does look as if Sorensen not only lowered his head and led with the crown of his helmet, but also initiated the contact. That raised a debate over why said play isn’t reviewable, as it is in college football. Had that been the case, then the play could have resulted in a first-and-goal from the 1 for Cleveland, giving the Browns a chance at their first touchdown of the game and a more manageable halftime deficit. Instead, Kansas City took over at its 20 and ended up kicking a field goal with two seconds remaining in the half to go up 19-3.
That particular aspect of the play — much like Higgins’ fumble — was the subject of intense debate on Twitter:
Bruh, 2 guys lunging for the goal line, targeting isn’t getting called. No matter who did it. I’ve never seen it called since targeting was instituted https://t.co/mtqr1e5Mag
— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) January 17, 2021
Lead with his head? Targeting? Something!! 🤦🏾♂️
— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) January 17, 2021
The crazy part is Sorensen is ejected for targeting If this is CFB
— Elle Duncan (@elleduncanESPN) January 17, 2021
25 TV cameras in the stadium. 25 pages of replay rules. But targeting isn’t reviewable? Makes you think the whole player safety thing is a bit of a crock. https://t.co/U8eKIwETbJ
— Zac Jackson (@AkronJackson) January 17, 2021