Sanders was returning a kick when Miles Killebrew tackled him from the side and nearly unscrewed Sanders’ head from his neck.
That’s a brutal play, and a clear facemask penalty. And yet zero yellow flags appeared. The referee was practically looking right at Sanders and Killebrew as it happened, and somehow Killebrew wasn’t flagged and the game continued like grabbing a guy’s facemask is totally allowed.
The Lions eventually prevailed 27-24.
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It’s unclear what the referee thought was happening there, considering that Sanders’ helmet had rotated 180 degrees before it popped off his head. Did he think it was a spontaneous exorcism, and Killebrew was just trying to help Sanders get his Linda Blair head turn started? Even that’s not an excuse to let Killebrew grab Sanders’ helmet like that.
Adding more rules and penalties to the NFL isn’t what anyone wants. But when it comes to player safety, maybe something should be in place to prevent missed calls like that. That play was essentially the dictionary definition of a facemask call, and it’s incredible that Sanders wasn’t seriously hurt.
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