There were three helmet-to-helmet hits on NFL players in Sunday’s games, and each came with different consequences for the offender. One player was penalized, another penalized and ejected, and the third received no punishment at all.

Marcus Peters helmet-to-helmet hit
Los Angeles Rams cornerback Marcus Peters received a helmet-to-helmet hit by Tampa Bay’s Donovan Smith after an interception. (Image: AP)

The differing penalties have people claiming the league’s policy is flawed, and may also contribute to favoritism. That was certainly the assertion by Buffalo Bills safety Micah Hyde, after his quarterback Josh Allen, was hit by a New England cornerback Jonathan Jones on Sunday. Allen was taken out of the game and went into concussion protocol. He did not return.

Hyde was furious that Jones wasn’t thrown out of the game when he made helmet-to-helmet contact with Allen. He was only penalized on the play. Hyde told reporters after the game that there is a double standard.

“That’s the first thing that came out of my mouth on the sideline,” Hyde said. “If one of us did that to 12 [Tom Brady], we wouldn’t have been in the game anymore. There’s no way. There’s no way we would have continued to play in that game.”

Helmet-to-Helmet Leads to Suspension

The most egregious foul, at least according to the NFL, was the helmet-to-helmet hit by Oakland middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict on Indianapolis tight end Jack Doyle. Burfict has a history of illegal hits. In seven years in the NFL, Burfict has either been fined or suspended 13 times.

Monday, though, was his harshest penalty yet. After being penalized and ejected from the game, the league followed up with a season-long suspension without pay. The NFL informed Burfict of the suspension in a letter by Jon Runyan, NFL vice president of football operations. It is reported that Burfict is planning on appealing the disciplinary action.

“Following each of your previous rule violations, you were warned by me and each of the jointly-appointed appeal officers that further violations would result in escalated accountability measures. However, you have continued to flagrantly abuse rules designated to protect yourself and your opponents from unnecessary risk,” Runyan wrote.

Indianapolis coach Frank Reich is glad Burfict was suspended for his actions.

“That was a pretty vicious hit,” Reich told reporters. “Thankfully (Doyle) came out of that one clean with no (concussion) symptoms. When someone does something like that, attacks one of your players, that’s just not supposed to be in the game. And when it’s against one of your players, you naturally have a reaction. I’m just glad they did what they did at the game and the follow-up action seems very appropriate.”

Hit Leads to No Call

The last helmet-to-helmet incident was between Los Angeles Rams cornerback Marcus Peters and Tampa Bay offensive tackle Donovan Smith. Smith engaged in the helmet-to-helmet hit after Peters intercepted a pass on the goal line.

Peters immediately went into concussion protocol. He didn’t have a concussion, but did not return to the game either.

He is expected to play in the Rams game when they travel to Seattle on Thursday. The Rams are 1.5-point underdogs.

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