It is time to explain how Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing was injured Monday night against the New York Jets. Cushing was the victim of a low block called a cut, not a chop as many are saying. If there was any penalty to be enforced it should have been for blocking below the waist or clipping.
In the second quarter, Cushing was in pursuit of Jets running back Bilal Powell. As he crossed the field, New York center Matt Slauson tried to block him and missed. When Cushing got by him Slauson blocked him from behind at the knees. Cushing’s left foot was planted and he suffered a torn left anterior cruciate ligament. He will miss the rest of the 2012 season.
It seems as though everyone who has an opinion on the block has called it a chop. USA Today and Yahoo! Sports reported it as such. Michael Wilbon of ESPN called it a chop on ‘Pardon the Interruption.’ If my knowledge of officiating and the play I saw is what they are referring to then they are wrong. Slauson’s block was a cut.
The difference between a cut and chop block is simple. The first occurs one on one. The second takes place when a defensive player is engaged with a blocker and is hit low by another. Here is an example of each. We will call team A offense and team B defense.
Team A center snaps the ball and immediately goes for B lineman’s ankles. This is a cut block. It is also a cut block when A’s running back blocks B’s linebacker in front and below the waist on a blitz. The first tactic is legal at all levels. The second is not legal in high school or youth football.
Here is an example of a chop block.
Team A center snaps the ball and blocks B lineman high. While both players are engaged A’s left guard blocks the B lineman below the waist. This is a chop block. A chop block is always a double team where one man hits high and the other low. It is illegal at all levels of football.
There was no one else in contact with Cushing when Slauson blocked him, which makes it a cut. There probably should have been a clipping call. I would like to think that if the umpire were still stationed behind the defense he would have seen the block and threw a flag. With him now stationed behind the offense things like this can be missed.
Since everyone was so hard on the replacement officials maybe they should read an NFL rulebook themselves.
If they did then they would know that Cushing was felled by a cut block not a chop.