Jarring as it may have been to see Texans quarterback Tom Savage lying on the ground with his hands twitching after a brutal hit in the end zone, what happened moments later was every bit as disturbing: Savage came back onto the field.
The NFL’s concussion protocol came under heavy criticism after it failed Savage on Sunday in Houston’s 26-16 loss to the 49ers. Only after Savage briefly returned to the game did the medical crew determine that the quarterback did, indeed, have a concussion and remove him from the game.
That Savage was allowed back in after being thrown to the ground by Elvis Dumervil of the 49ers – his hands twitching as he laid directly underneath referee John Hussey – will lead to more questions this week about how the NFL handles head trauma. The NFL requires two trained spotters in the press box, a team doctor and an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant on the sideline to help diagnose concussions.
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”They try and make the best decision for the player,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said.
More to the point was this from Chris Nowinski , a longtime critic of the NFL’s handling of concussions: ”Disgusted that the Houston Texans allowed Tom Savage to return to the game after two plays after showing these horrifying concussion signs (is that a seizure?) after a head impact,” Nowinski tweeted.
In case you missed it, here are the other top topics after the NFL season’s 14th Sunday:
BIG WIN, BIGGER LOSS: The Eagles clinched the NFC East with a 43-35 win over the Rams but lost quarterback Carson Wentz to a knee injury in the process. Wentz took Mark Barron’s helmet to his left knee while diving into the end zone for a touchdown that was called back because of a holding penalty. Wentz had an MRI on Monday that confirmed Wentz tore his ACL, and coach Doug Peterson said his star QB, a favorite in the NFL MVP race, would miss the rest of the season. Other QBs hurt Sunday were Marcus Mariota of the Titans (knee) and Josh McCown of the Jets (hand).
BIG BEN: Ben Roethlisberger became the first NFL quarterback to throw for 500 yards in three games and the Steelers, after squandering an early 14-point lead, rallied from 11 down for a 39-38 win over Baltimore. Roethlisberger’s numbers: 44 for 66 for 506 yards and two touchdowns. Roethlisberger’s previous 500-yard games came in 2014 (522 yards vs. Colts) and 2009 (503 vs. Packers).
SNOW DAY: Snowball fight! On a day like this, Bills linebacker Ryan Davis could hardly resist. Davis scooped up handfuls of the white stuff and started pelting teammates to celebrate a sack. It was one of dozens of must-see moments from Buffalo’s 13-7 overtime win over Indianapolis that will be remembered for one thing: snow. Fans built snowmen in the stands, players made snow angels on the field and all 11 members of the Colts special teams – plus some sideline personnel who were later removed from the field by officials – had to kick away piles of ankle-high snow to clear a spot for Adam Vinatieri to try the game-tying extra point late in the fourth quarter.
WALK-OFF WIN: Davante Adams closed out Green Bay’s comeback win over the Browns in style. After catching the pass from Brett Hundley and spinning away, he scooted into the end zone, then kept right on running into the tunnel . Final score: Green Bay 27, Cleveland 21. It was Green Bay’s second straight overtime win and it kept the Packers alive in the playoff hunt, at 7-6, with Aaron Rodgers rounding into health and possibly available to return next week. Oh, and poor Cleveland found yet another way to lose. The Browns led 21-7 with 13 minutes left, but fell to 0-13.
FINE TIME: The NFL might be getting into some Seahawks’ wallets this week. The Jaguars were taking a knee after icing their 30-24 win over Seattle, but Seahawks defensive tackle Michael Bennett dived at center Brandon Linder’s knees and triggered a fight. Seattle’s Sheldon Richardson was ejected for throwing a punch, and Leonard Fournette went after Bennett. More pushing and shoving ensued after the next kneel-down, and defensive end Quinton Jefferson was tossed. Jefferson tried to climb into the stands after getting hit with what looked like a plastic bottle. Seattle coach Pete Carroll also got flagged for coming onto the field.
AP Sports Writers Rob Maaddi and Mark Long contributed to this report.