DeCastro's chop block attempt brings up more controversy over the NFL's most debated rule

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Steelers offensive lineman David DeCastro's missed chop block that resulted in the season-ending injury of Maurkice Pouncey was legal - if not poor form. It only brings up more debate over whether the league's most misunderstood rule should continue in its current form.

A cute attempt at humor from a Titans fan message board made its way around the Internets recently. It has GIF images of both David DeCastro crashing into the right knee of Maurkice Pouncey on a chop block attempt as well as Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh cutting out the legs of Vikings center John Sullivan in a side-by-side comparison. The purpose of it seems to mock DeCastro, while calling for the league to fine him based on the $100,000 fine given to Suh for his actions on that play.

The only problem is what DeCastro was attempting to do was legal. What Suh did was not.

Per the rule book:

"A chop block is is a block in which one offensive player (designated as A1 for the purposes of this rule) blocks a defensive player in the area of the thigh or lower while another offensive player (A2) engages that same defensive player above the waist."

These are legal on running plays, with certain restrictions. They are illegal on passing plays.  Pouncey was injured on a running play.

On running plays, it's legal to chop block when A1 and A2 are lined up no more than one spot away from each other - i.e. The right tackle or guard, but not the tight end on that side, can come down the line and go low on a defensive player when that defensive player is engaged with the center. Or, DeCastro can go low on the guy Pouncey is blocking.

Tribune Review reporter Mark Kaboly got the general reactions from the Steelers defensive players on the rule, and understandably, their response is not in favor of the rule.

Kaboly quoted Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel,  I am not saying all cut blocks, but when someone is engaged, then I don't feel like it is a safe play," he said. "Every year guys get hurt. You wonder how many guys have to go down before something happens."

Kaboly also noted Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who is on the NFL's competition committee responsible for proposing rule changes or modifications, is in favor of the rule.

For the record, Suh was fined due to an illegal crackback block, not a chop block.

"It is an illegal crackback block if a defensive player is contacted below the waist within an area of five yards on either side of the line of scrimmage..."

The Lions had just intercepted (another) Christian Ponder pass, thus making Suh an offensive player. He hit Sullivan pretty much right on the line of scrimmage.

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