The Steelers Faked An Injury To Stop The Clock

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Midway through the fourth, with the Steelers up a score and on the edge of field goal range, Ben Roethlisberger was sacked. He was banged up, and slow getting back to the huddle, and the Steelers found themselves with a choice—burn a timeout, or take a delay of game penalty. WR Emmanuel Sanders took a third path: He crumpled to the ground like he had been shot.

Rolling around in pain, then limping off the field, it appeared that Sanders had suffered a cramp. You can't prove or disprove a cramp just by looking at someone—but Sanders didn't have a cramp. He was merely the latest to carry on with one of football's oldest traditions: the fake injury.


It looks bad if the cameras catch you looking fine a moment before the ideally timed injury. It looks bad if more than one player at once catches the cramp bug. It looks extra bad when Cris Collinsworth is smirking and calling it "a savvy" play. But the NFL's not going to do anything about it. They sent out a memo after the Giants pulled the same schtick last year. They sent out a memo last month, begging teams to please stop faking injuries because they would rather not have to make a rule against it. Sanders fakes an injury, and all the NFL does is put the video up on their site.


What we have is a bit of gamesmanship practiced by every team, a practice the league would rather pretend doesn't exist. But strongly worded memos doesn't seem to be doing the trick, and the NFL acknowledges that any rule would be unenforceable. So we shall continue to live in a world where cramps tend to strike at the precise time to stop the clock or slow down a no-huddle offense. Might as well point and laugh.