Raiders Cut Block On Steelers DE Ziggy Hood Was Legal

Several have emailed me asking me if the cut block performed by Oakland Raiders right tackle Willie Smith on Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Ziggy Hood late in the Sunday game was an illegal chop block. If you remember, I posted the differences between a legal cut block and an illegal chop block following the Steelers week 1 loss last year to the Baltimore Ravens and I am reposting the rule below along with the animated gif of the block on Hood.

On a running play, A1, an offensive lineman, chops a defensive player after the defensive player has been engaged by A2 (high or low), and the initial alignment of A2 is more than one position away from A1. The rule applies only when the block occurs at a time when the flow of the play is clearly away from A1.

And so, if the center hits a guy high and a tackle hits him low, it’s a penalty. When it’s a center and one of the two guards, the chop block is not illegal.

As long as the cut block doesn’t come from more than one position away, it is legal, and in this case Hood is engaged with Raiders right guard Mike Brisiel, which makes it legal for Smith, the right tackle, to cut him.

As much emphasis that the league puts on player safety, the cut block should be done away with altogether, in my opinion. We do not yet know the seriousness of the injury to Hood, but the cut block is a dangerous play for big defensive linemen. As long as the player is not engaged I am fine with players blocking low, but having to worry about your knees while being locked up with another player takes away from the competitive nature of game.

So yes, it was a legal block.

  • chris dimarino

    Great breakdown of the “official” rule versus what it is understood as. I agree completely that the chop block should be taken away. To have a play like this considered as legal blows my mind. Ziggy had almost no chance to defend himself. What pesters me further is that clipping is such an inconsistently flagged penalty. It’s become like an offensive holding call, where it can happen on any play, but it’s up to the discression of the officials whether or not to call it. Sorry for the rant, but being a former lineman, I can sympathize. As a minimum, the language should be altered to remove the “one position down” portion. That would be a positive start.

  • SteelerFanInMD

    That cut blocked sure looked like a dirty play on a player’s knee to cause severe injury. If the NFL is so concerned about player safety, why is that play legal?

  • SteelSpine

    Take that, whiners about referees, whiners who implied we lost because of referees.
    Thank you DaveB.

  • Nolrog

    If that’s legal then why doesn’t every team do that every play? A tackle guard combo could chop block a player every single play.

  • WilliamSekinger

    A lot of teams do exactly that. The ravens started do it just a few years ago. Big Snack was complaining about it just last year. Where have you been?