Active for one week after serving a two-game suspension, Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson was suspended by the NFL for a helmet-to-helmet hit he delivered on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Josh Dobbs on Sunday.
Jackson launched himself and lowered his head into Dobbs’ helmet during the first quarter of Sunday night’s primetime matchup on November 19. The play went unpenalized as Dobbs fumbled the ball and was sent to the blue medical tent before returning to the game.
It didn’t take long for the NFL to review the play. After NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the league would review the play Monday morning, the NFL announced that Jackson would be suspended for four games without pay just eight hours later, according to Star Tribune reporter Ben Goessling. Jackson has been fined in four different games this season, tallying nearly $90,000 in fines, and just returned from a two-game suspension.
NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan issued Jackson the following message in a letter with his suspension notice, per NFL Communications:
With 13:38 remaining in the first quarter, you were involved in a play that the League considers a serious violation of the playing rules. The video of the play shows that you lowered your head and made forcible contact to Vikings quarterback Josh Dobbs. You had an unobstructed path to your opponent and the illegal contact could have been avoided.
Illegal acts that are flagrant and jeopardize the safety of players will not be tolerated. The League will continue to stress enforcement of the rules that prohibit using your helmet to make forcible contact with your opponent. On the play in question, you lowered your head and delivered a forceful blow to the shoulder and head/neck area of an opponent when you had time and space to avoid such contact. You could have made contact with your opponent within the rules, yet you chose not to.
The Broncos went on to win the game 21-20, scoring three field goals off Vikings turnovers, including the fumble forced by Jackson.
Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell Gives Blunt Statement on Kareem Jackson’s Hit on Josh Dobbs
In his postgame news conference, Kevin O’Connell was asked to clarify the league rules for helmet-to-helmet contact as reporters made sense of the officials’ non-call.
O’Connell was short on an explanation for no call by the officials in the aftermath of the game. He delivered a blunt message when asked if there were interpretations of the rule that would warrant a non-call on the play.
“The rule is what it is, they didn’t throw the flag,” O’Connell said in his postgame news conference.
“On the field it felt like,” O’Connell added, saying he felt the hit should have been penalized. “It tends to happen pretty fast out there but in the moment, coming from the second level the way he did, it seemed like a pretty direct helmet-to-helmet type hit, but I’m sure they saw it differently.”
Vikings QB Josh Dobbs Addresses Kareem Jackson’s Helmet-to-Helmet Hit
After Sunday’s loss, Dobbs was asked by reporters if he felt he was hit helmet-to-helmet. He deferred to what was in his control — holding onto the ball — and allow the league to run its course of action in reviewing the play.
“I have not had a chance to watch it,” Dobbs said in his postgame news conference. “That is something I will check out. I have to take care of the football. It was third-and-1, I was trying to make a play to get the first down, keep us on the field and move the sticks.
“The coaches and everyone else figure all that stuff out with officiating, but at the end of the day I just have to take care of the football in that situation especially to start the game.”