Nov 10, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) sits on the turf after injuring his leg during a pass play in the closing minutes of the Broncos win over the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Manning did not leave the game. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

My NFL Proposal: A Running into the Passer Penalty


“Personal foul, roughing the passer. Fifteen yard penalty, automatic first down.”

These words can change an NFL football game. Fans cringe to hear them when their player is the culprit, knowing their defense just gave away a first down and 15 yards. Similarly, a roughing the passer penalty on the opposing team’s defense is a gift. If your team’s quarterback isn’t hurt by the offending hit, the reward is the easiest first down and fifteen yards an offense will ever gain.

Each week a number of roughing the passer calls or non-calls draw criticism around the league. Kevin Vickerson of the Broncos was penalized for “roughing” Andrew Luck when he lightly bumped the quarterback, who smartly fell to the ground and gained a critical first down for the Indianapolis Colts. It seemed barely more than a touch, but was too visible for referees to ignore.

On the flip side, Peyton Manning was hit low late in Sunday’s 28-20 victory over the San Diego Chargers. No penalty flag was thrown. In Manning’s case, referees saw the contact but decided it did not warrant a 15-yard penalty.

Each week referees are forced to make critical calls regarding hits on the quarterback. The hits that are violent and blatant are the easy ones. But the majority of hits on the quarterback fall into a troublesome grey area, not really worthy of a personal foul but too obvious to ignore.

Hits like Vickerson’s bump of Luck present a difficult decision for referees: a 15-yard momentum changing penalty or nothing at all. But what if referees had a third option? If all hits on the quarterback are not equal, then why are the penalties equal?

I propose a “Running into the Passer” penalty. The rule would be similar to the penalty for running into the punter, a five yard award with no automatic first down. This penalty would cover the minor or incidental hits that can’t be ignored, but are clearly less physical and less dangerous.

Policing hits on the quarterback and protecting the league’s marquee players is increasing as a priority. Such an important task should be made as easy as possible for the men in pinstripes. Giving them a 5-yard penalty option for the less egregious hits on the quarterback would be a step in the right direction.

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Tags: Denver Broncos NFL Rules Changes

  • tubbs45

    For fuck sake man, ‘low’? Go back and look at the play. Initial contact: quad/thigh, as manning collapses his legs are wrapped. Legal hit. Your proposal should be: touching quarter back or better yet continued pussification of football. The punter deserves the additional protection due the fact that they are in an extremely vulnerable position. The QB has a choice, get rid of the ball quicker or dump it.
    Quit whining and go beat KC…

  • tubbs45

    And by the way Vickerson penalty should have been on luck for bad acting. There shouldn’t have been ANY call…

  • Jeff Herrera

    My hope would not be for more penalties, or more protection of the QB. The hope would be that many of these borderline/soft “Roughing the Passer” calls would be reduced to to a 5 yard penalty rather than the personal foul 15 yard penalty. If the refs have to protect the QB and throw a flag nearly every time they are touched, I’d rather see some 5 yard penalties assessed rather than every foul having to be a 15 yard penalty with an automatic first down.

    Like with the Vickerson foul, I agree it was bad acting and no foul or picking up the flag should have been the correct call. But if the refs are going to throw the flag whenever in doubt and if the frequency of thrown flags is not going to change, I’d rather see them with the option to call a lesser penalty. My feeling is that a vicious helmet-to-helmet jawbreaker should not carry the same penalty as an incidental bump when the defender was trying to avoid hitting the QB.

  • DTVTechGuy

    So we give the QB’s little flags…

    Get a grip. It’s football.

    This article reads worse than listening to Payton, Brady, and Rivers whining all at the same time.

    How about rub some dirt on it or quit.

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