Patriots' Browner on Green hit: Officials 'took away a hard-effort play'
Sunday's matchup between the New England and San Diego took a wild turn early in the second half, when Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner was flagged for laying a devastating hit at midfield on Chargers tight end Ladarius Green.
Green was running across the field when quarterback Philip Rivers led a pass that caused the tight end to bobble the ball, distracting his focus away from Browner.
"We were in thirds," Browner said. "My guy set short so it gave me time to check for the cross coming over. I happened to get there at the same time the ball got there."
Green laid down on the turf for a while before walking off on his own power, but Browner already had done the damage. Browner entered Sunday ranked third in the NFL in penalties among cornerbacks with 10. So his reputation more than likely had something to do with the way the officials called the play.
"That's just part of the game now a days," Browner said. "When you make a big hit now a days, they tend to call a penalty. I felt it was pretty clean. I lowered my shoulder into his chest. It's just the nature of the game."
Depending on who you ask, maybe it shouldn't have been a penalty. If you gauged the hit's legality by the responses on Twitter, oh man, did the Twitterverse ever side with Browner.
ESPN's Ed Werder tweeted, "Brandon Browner hit. That's football."
Random Joe fan tweeted, "Don't worry about those BS penalties. Keep making teams pay. We need that edge you bring to the D.
Obviously, that's only a small sample size, but there's a whole lot more if you search Browner's name on Twitter.
What seems to be the question now is whether or not the league office should be reviewing these plays in real time, instead of reviewing them days later and issuing fines as a result.
When asked about the issue after the game, Browner replied, "Most definitely. I think it's a smart thing to do, instead of costing guys 15 yarders. That cost us six points. Most definitely. I think whoever handles those things, they should. They review everything else. You took away a hard-effort play. That's all it was, hard effort."
His teammate, fellow cornerback Kyle Arrington, agrees. Shocking, right?
"They review everything else, why not," he told FOX Sports West. "I mean, as a player, you do your best to adapt to the game, whatever the rule changes are ... You just adapt."
Perhaps the most well-thought-out response of the night to Browner's hit comes via NFL Media insider Michael Silver, who told FOX Sports West after the game: "You want it to be football, and I completely empathize with defenders who are trying to do their job. On the other hand, I'm very sensitive on head trauma. I totally understand this is a new world order, and it's the way it's being enforced. It's tricky. You have to be able to try to make a play. When intent isn't necessarily factored into the penalty, it's frustrating, but this is football."
Here's the thing: The referee made a judgement call in the moment. Intent played zero role in that moment. Whether or not he made the right call, NFL players now have had ample time to figure out the best possible way to tackle without getting flagged. Browner clearly has struggled with this all season long. So what we saw Sunday night shouldn't come as a surprise.
Seeing the play live, inside the stadium in real time, it looked bad, really bad. On the replay, who knows. The only thing we do know for certain is that hindsight always is 20/20, even in the NFL.