Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals can't forget the vicious hit Ryan Shazier laid on Giovani Bernard in the Wild Card round of the AFC Playoffs. The play resulted in a fumble, and no flag on the play for a defensive player striking an opponent with the crown of his helmet.
Despite the uproar from Bengals players, coaches and fans, as of 2015 the play was considered legal. Bernard caught the pass and had established himself as a runner when Shazier made the devastating hit on the running back.
In case you forgot what exactly happened on the play:
Although the play was indeed legal in 2015, it won't be the case in 2016. Per ProFootballTalk, "NFL V.P. of Officiating Dean Blandino said today that under a new interpretation of the league's rules against hits with the crown of the helmet, hits like Shazier's will be illegal going forward."
This can't be a shock or surprise to anyone who watched the above play and realized just how vicious the hit was. Bernard left the game with a concussion and with the NFL poised to make the game safer, the rule change had to be made.
At the annual owner's meeting in Florida, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked about the change in the rule surrounding Shazier's hit.
Tomlin agreed with rule change on Shazier hit on Bernard. Said it was "ugly" hit that wasn't illegal at time.— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) March 22, 2016
The NFL is taking strides to protect players, while making hitting a ball carrier more difficult for defenders. As the "strike zone" style of tackling becomes more and more a part of reality, Shazier will have to adjust this style of play to avoid personal fouls in the future.