Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/10/12
The Dallas Cowboys were facing a crucial third-and-20 on Sunday afternoon against the Cincinnati Bengals. They were trailing the Bengals 19-10 late in the third quarter, looking at a seemingly insurmountable third-and-long. However, the Cowboys looked to have overcome those odds to get a drive-prolonging first down. Quarterback Tony Romo dropped a perfect pass into the hands of Dez Bryant down the right sideline. The Cowboys receiver looked poised to haul it in, gain the first down and resuscitate the dying drive. Cincinnati safety Reggie Nelson had other plans, though. He came from his position to lay the boom on Bryant, delivering what was a textbook, although bone-jarring, hit on Bryant. The crushing blow sent the ball skyward before it fell harmlessly to the ground. The Cowboys would have to punt. That, however, is when a little yellow penalty flag came flying in. The Nelson hit on Bryant, which is how you want your players to play the game, had been flagged for a personal foul. With that, came an automatic first down, and taking any potential momentum from the Bengals. The Cowboys weren’t able to capitalize on that, but they would eventually win the game on a last-second field goal. See the play and call in question below. As you might imagine, the Bengals were none-too-pleased with the call. “I thought it was a great target and probably one that will be on their [NFL] teaching reel of how to do it,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said, according to Cincinnati.com. “Reggie’s done a good job with those things. He was on their teaching reel last year, and I thought that one was picture perfect.” Nelson also defended himself. “That’s what [defensive coordinator Mike] Zimmer teaches us — to go low and not aim for anybody’s head,” Nelson said. “I think I did a good job of taking that teaching.” That’s actually a pretty calm way of disputing the call, especially given how bad it actually was. Defensive players simply can’t do their job anymore. The genesis of the crackdown on illegal hits  makes all the sense in the world; the NFL needs to protect its players, especially given all of the recent revelations in relation to head injuries. But they apparently need to do a better job of defining, and just as importantly enforcing, those rules. Nelson’s hit was as picture-perfect as they come. He leads with his shoulder, not his head. He makes contact with Bryant’s sternum and shoulders, not his head. Nelson doesn’t launch himself at Bryant, he just runs through him. Bryant even has a split second to brace himself for impact, which seems to indicate he wasn’t defenseless, either. Making matters worse, is the fact that the flag comes in from an official that’s away from the play. The side judge on the right sideline has a perfect view of the play, about 10 yards away. He sees Bryant right in front of him, and he can obviously see that Nelson doesn’t deliver a helmet-to-helmet hit. He immediately comes down the sideline waving his arms, signaling an incomplete pass. The flag, however, comes flying in from the middle of the field toward the back of the secondary — from the back judge. He’s running backwards, away from the play, and doesn’t appear to have a very good view of the play. He wasn’t about to let that get in the way of him throwing his flag, though. The inconsistencies surrounding these types of hits are on display every Sunday. The NFL continues to flub it up when it comes to these types of hits, not to mention pass interference calls, as both have become coin flips. We may not know what a penalty is anymore, but what is incredibly evident especially in wake of this horrible call on Sunday, is that it’s becoming more and more difficult to play good, clean hard-nosed football on the defensive side of the ball.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: JPP 'severely injured' hand in fireworks mishap

Andrew Quarless found hiding in plant after firing gun

Odell Beckham: I don't want to be known only for 'the catch'

Borland on retirement: Health 'more important' than money

Three NBA teams that improved most early in offseason

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Adam Eaton gets 4th of July surprise from brother

Clippers in talks with JaVale McGee, Amar’e Stoudemire

Report: LeBron won't negotiate with Cavs until Thompson is signed

Andrei Kostitsyn interested in return to NHL

Blazers fire assistant who said Aldridge was leaving team

Miguel Cabrera lands on DL for first time in his career

WATCH: Carlos Gomez leaves gum, note for Billy Hamilton

Kansas to wear new USA jerseys after request from FIBA

What can the Saints expect from CJ Spiller in 2015?

Isaiah Thomas trolls Kings after Rajon Rondo signing

Kosta Koufos agrees to deal with Kings

Report: Blues in trade talks about Kevin Shattenirk

Report: Gregg Popovich plans to fulfill five-year contract

4-Star LB commits to Kentucky, zings Louisville

Clay Buchholz not worried about trade rumors

All hope isn't completely lost for this year's Milwaukee Brewers

Roy Hibbert likely being traded to Lakers

WATCH: Pablo Sandoval falls over railing during catch

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

JPP injured in fireworks mishap?

Odell Beckham doesn't want to be known for 'the catch'

Russell Wilson 'would definitely consider' playing for Mariners

Solo, Rapinoe among USWNT stars up for World Cup awards

LBS on Sports Jeopardy! Here's how how it went

College football's 35 most patriotic helmets

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

With Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans

Obama Administration: Change name if Redskins move to D.C.

Deciding what the All-Star Game means

Odell Beckham Jr. offered professional baseball contract

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.