Tharold Simon’s 105-yard interception return for a touchdown Friday night was nullified by an illegal-contact penalty called against the Seahawks cornerback.
The NFL has since confirmed what everyone on Seattle’s sideline believed: it wasn’t a penalty.
Coach Pete Carroll told 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” on Monday that he heard from the league office regarding three plays from the team’s preseason win over San Diego, all of which involved Seahawks cornerbacks. The verdicts: neither Simon nor Phillip Adams should have been flagged for illegal contact, while officials failed to make one such call on Byron Maxwell.
The league has declared illegal contact a point emphasis, and while that might affect the Seahawks more than most teams because of the style with which Seattle’s defensive backs play, it’s something the rest of the league is having to adjust to during the preseason.
“If you look at the game, there’s so many opportunities when guys engage just kind of as they’re moving into their positions when hands are on guys,” Carroll said. “And it goes both ways now because they did emphasize offensive pass interference as well as the defensive issues. And so what’s happened is that now that it’s an elevated awareness, they’re seeing so many more contacts that they would have considered incidental in the past and so we’re getting those calls that really don’t have any bearing on the play recognized as penalties.”
Carroll said that according to a study the conducted, officials have called about seven times more illegal-contact penalties league-wide this preseason.
“This is just a very sensitive call right now and it’s not the officiating. I don’t blame the officials for this,” he said. “This is really an emphasis that came from the competition committee, which is our coaches primarily. And so what I’m really curious to see is what happens in the next two weeks, how do they respond to these numbers, because there’s no way that we want this many penalties called. That’s ridiculous. I think the Saints might have had 20-something penalties last week or something crazy. That’s a bad game to watch.
“So I’m hoping and I’m trying to get involved in the conversation right now to find out what’s going to happen because we need to start talking now so something happens by opening day. So we’ll just have to work through it.”