Alvin Kamara on no flag after helmet hit: It is what it is

One of the league's points of emphasis surrounding player safety had the New Orleans Saints scratching their heads on a non-call after Thursday night's 13-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Down 13-10 and on third down at midfield early in the fourth quarter, Saints quarterback Drew Brees connected with running back Alvin Kamara on a short screen pass. Kamara raced 8 yards down the right sideline in front of the Saints' bench before Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith drilled the running back. Replays showed the linebacker lead with the crown of his helmet on the hit.

A 15-yard penalty would've given the Saints an automatic first down and the opportunity to either tie the game or take the lead, but the absence of the yellow flag forced the Saints to punt.

After the game, a reporter asked Brees for his thoughts on arguably one of the biggest non-calls of the game.

"What do you think?" Brees responded after a slight pause followed by a grin and shake of the head, via the Saints' official website. "Yeah, let the league deal with that."

Kamara was asked if he expected a penalty on the play.

"Did one come out?" Kamara said, via team transcript. "It is what it is. It don't matter what I was expecting."

Meanwhile, the lack of penalty stumped the FOX Sports broadcast booth. Play-by-play commentator Joe Buck and color analyst Troy Aikman pointed out Smith's hit should've been an easy call for the officials before bringing in rules analyst Mike Pereira to provide an opinion.

"We haven't seen many called this year," Pereira said, "but that's a clear example of leading with the crown of the helmet."

The league released a fact sheet during the offseason on the use of the helmet, and the rule states a foul occurs if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with the helmet of an opponent.

"I was involved in the process of the rule," said Saints coach Sean Payton, a member of the NFL competition committee. "Listen, those are hard to call as well. Really, it's tough when the guys are moving around real fast. I haven't seen it as cleanly as you guys have. Listen, we got beat. We got beat tonight and there will be a number of things we that we can point to but overall, we just didn't do enough as a team."

The league could still fine Smith after reviewing the play, but it would provide little consolation to the Saints, whose 10-game winning streak came to a halt in the 13-10 loss.

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