Safety rules gone too far? Patriots have TD taken away for controversial blindside block

The NFL got dragged for years for ignoring player safety. When the league went the other way and instituted plenty of new rules to protect player safety, there were bound to be some negative consequences.

The New England Patriots felt that on Sunday, when a blindside block that looked legal — and on a player close to making a tackle — wiped out a punt return touchdown and cost the Patriots the lead.

The Patriots had an apparent 82-yard punt return touchdown by Gunner Olszewski, but was called back due to a blindside block on Anfernee Jennings.

It’s hard to believe Jennings’ block was called a penalty. He seemed to give a shoulder to a defender in close pursuit. There didn’t seem to be anything “blindside” about it.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick gestures from the sideline.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick gestures from the sideline in the first half of an NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals on Nov. 29, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

It was a tough call, and a costly one. The Patriots didn’t score a touchdown after that and settled for a field goal and a 10-10 tie. That call cost the Patriots four points in a game they eventually won, 20-17.

It’s understandable why the NFL wanted to go over the top on player safety. It had heard enough about its mishandling of concussions. But in making the game safer, there are penalties that look nothing like penalties, including one that cost New England in a big way.

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