It's since been ruled as an incorrect call, but it seems as though the helmet-to-helmet hit on Baker Mayfield won't go quietly.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter addressed the penalty that wasn't (then, after the game, became a penalty upon review) Wednesday when speaking with reporters. While Koetter didn't deny safety Jordan Whitehead initiated helmet-to-helmet contact (after reviewing the film), he interestingly turned about as much attention to a second flag, which he presumed was thrown for taunting on the part of Mayfield.
After the hit, the charged-up quarterback rose to his feet, got into the face of Whitehead and had to be separated by an official.
"What they said on the field was it's a helmet-to-helmet hit and then [Mayfield] got up and taunted our guy, so then they threw the second flag," Koetter said, via the Akron Beacon Journal. "Somehow, they worked it out that they were picking up both flags. Where I was on the field, I didn't see it as a helmet-to-helmet [hit]. But when you look at it on tape, it clearly was, and I guess the fallout from that is what it is."
The fallout from that was NFL senior VP of officiating Al Riveron correcting the call in his weekly review of penalties. And to set the record straight, a taunting penalty was never announced. On Saturday, the league fined Whitehead $26,739 for "unnecessary roughness," NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.
"The guy shouldn't have hit our player in the head, first of all, and, obviously, our guy got up and he tossed the ball to the official," Jackson said, again via the Akron Beacon Journal. "Obviously, the guy was close by, but the bottom line is our guy shouldn't be getting hit in the head. I don't care about some taunting foul. We're talking about our quarterback taking a shot in the head and sliding. I think that's wrong. Totally wrong."
Jackson, who said he was disappointed by Koetter's assertion that Mayfield was taunting, continued on the topic.
"Just that we're talking about a second flag," Jackson explained. "I mean, the biggest thing that happened was the quarterback got hit in the head. Taunting? Does that really matter? I mean, really? That, to me, made no sense."
But it's interesting to see how two opposing coaches view an unquestioned helmet-to-helmet hit, since we as a football America are attempting to rule the head out of the game. While Jackson was rightfully upset about both the hit and the picking up of the flag, Koetter was equally as focused on a flag he thought was thrown for taunting, underscoring the prevailing desperation for triumph in professional sports.
Until we teach football players at all levels (starting at the top) not to use their head, which at this rate will happen eventually, this will continue to be a topic. How coaches handle it will be just as important to watch in the games (and perhaps, seasons) ahead.