One that Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Mularkey called “unnecessary, totally unnecessary.”
Late in the first half of the Seattle Seahawks‘ matchup with Tennessee, Mariota dashed out of the pocket and up the sideline.
Just after sprinting out of bounds, Sherman flew in with a late helmet-to-helmet hit that sent flags soaring immediately.
Listen to this hit Richard Sherman delivered to Marcus Mariota.
Mariota gives Sherman some love.
Taylor Lewan goes nuts on Sherman. pic.twitter.com/eKc2lV3d95
— Rob Lopez (@R0BaTO) September 24, 2017
But because the dirty hit inspired understandably strong reactions from Sherman’s Titans opponents and an ensuing scrum, Tennessee offensive linemen Jack Conklin and Quinton Spain as well as Seahawks defensive tackle were all whistled for unnecessary roughness.
All four penalties offset, meaning the only punishment Sherman received for his dirty play was a familiarity with the breath of offensive lineman Taylor Lewan.
The situation inspired the Titans head coach to call for a rule change.
“The outcome of what happened was to have two penalties nullify each other,” Mularkey told Paul Kuharsky after the game. “Basically he got a clean shot on our quarterback, and there was no penalty. There was no negative ramifications for their team with that hit he put on our quarterback, which we may bring that up to the competition committee about a rule change. You can’t do that and then have no ramifications against your team.”
Sherman defended the dirty hit after his team lost 33-27.
“He was still in bounds so I play until the blow of the whistle,” Sherman said, according to the Seattle Times. “If the quarterback slides, or kind of gives himself up or does something like that, then you stop. But, if there’s still yards that he’s gaining, you’re taught to play to the whistle. It’s so crazy the way the game is nowadays. (Mariota) came up to me and said good hit because he understood that I’m playing till the blow of the whistle. I’m not waiting until you took two steps out of bounds. It’s a game of inches and you can’t give up anything, and it’s just one of those plays. It’s football. It seems like the world is getting a lot softer in terms of the way it’s officiated and the way it’s seen, but it’s football at the end of the day.”
It was the fourth time Sherman was flagged on the day.
In the first quarter, he got hit with three penalties on a single play—pass interference, holding, and unsportsmanlike conduct—which negated a Kam Chancellor interception.
Naturally, Sherman also disputed those calls.
“That had a huge impact on the game,” Sherman said. “That’s a turnover. We played the play right, did everything we were supposed to do and then you make that call. His explanation was that I had pulled Eric by inside his jersey or something like that, which is a strange call for him to make because we are face-to-face and he’s at Eric’s back. So either he has X-ray vision or I am missing something. So I need a better explanation than that because there’s no way you saw anything from that angle.”