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After hit from Jonathan Jones sends Josh Allen to concussion protocol, Bills take issue

Josh Allen was knocked out of the game on this hit from Jonathan Jones.Barry Chin/The Boston Globe/Globe Staff

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Frustrations lingered inside the Bills’ locker room Sunday after a hard hit landed quarterback Josh Allen in concussion protocol.

The hit came early in the fourth quarter Sunday in what was a 16-10 Patriots win. Allen was running with the ball, trying to convert a third and 8 when Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones took him down about a yard shy of the first-down marker.

Jones’s helmet made contact with Allen’s helmet and the quarterback’s head also hit the ground hard during he tackle. Allen lay motionless for several tense moments before he was able to sit upright. Jones was flagged for unnecessary roughness, but the penalty was offset by a holding penalty called on the Bills. Jones was not ejected; Allen left the game and was replaced by backup quarterback Matt Barkley, who finished the game for Buffalo.


Opinions on whether the play should have resulted in an ejection were split, unsurprisingly, along team lines. Bills coach Sean McDermott said he felt Jones should have been ejected.

“There’s no room in football for that,” McDermott said. “It is a shame to see a player like Josh, or any player for that matter, go down on a hit like that.”

NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Al Riveron told pool reporter Vic Carrucci after the game that, though there was helmet-to-helmet contact, it did not rise to the standard necessary for an ejection.

According to NFL rules, a hit is ejectable if a player lowers his helmet to “establish a linear body posture prior to initiating and making contact with the helmet” and has both an unobstructed path to the opponent and other options on the play than to initiate contact. Helmet-to-helmet contact on a hit alone does not make the hit ejectable.

“We looked at it and in this situation, we didn’t feel that that contact rose to the level of an ejection. The player actually turns,” Riveron said.


Jones told reporters after the game he was not trying to hurt Allen and he planned on checking in with him to see if he was OK. Allen was able to run to the locker room from the medical tent after his initial exam.

Still, some of Allen’s teammates felt the hit would have been penalized differently if it had been on the Patriots’ quarterback.

“If one of us did that to 12 [Tom Brady] we wouldn’t have been in the game anymore,” Bills safety Micah Hyde said. “There’s no way we’d have continued to be in the game. Even with the holding penalty that we had, offset penalty, there’s no way.”

Riveron clarified in the pool report that the existence of an offsetting penalty only affected how the teams were penalized by yardage and was not a factor in the decision to keep Jones on the field.

From the Patriots’ perspective, it was a bang-bang play in which the helmet contact was unavoidable, not intentional.

Safety Devin McCourty said that everyone on the Patriots defense tries to play responsibly, but that it’s a fine line on a play like that one, where a bigger quarterback is running with the ball and leaning forward. Allen is listed on the Bills’ roster at 237 pounds. Jones is listed on the Patriots’ roster at 190.

“How are you supposed to hit a guy?” McCourty asked. “For one, Josh Allen is not a small guy. He’s leaning, trying to get a first down, he was like a yard short. We always talk about how we need to try to hit guys but not hit them in the head, so we’ll watch it and try to do a better job of it because it’s a key point. [The penalty is] 15 yards, and nobody wants to hurt anybody out there, but this game is very physical.”


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Nora Princiotti can be reached at nora.princiotti@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @NoraPrinciotti.