Kendrick Bourne enjoyed a breakout performance in the Patriots’ statement win over the Titans Sunday, but his excellence should’ve come with a price — at least according to ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio.
On Bourne’s second touchdown, the wideout quickly flashed the peace sign as he broke away for the incredible score. But officials didn’t throw any flags for Bourne’s brief display. Florio is on the case.
“Kendrick Bourne's memorable day included a great catch in the end zone, an amazing run with a short pass, and the flash of a peace sign that was quick enough to not be noticed by officials who have been ordered to flag such gestures,” Florio tweeted Monday (he also tweeted about the inoffensive act on Sunday).
Florio went on to write an entire article about the episode, affirming Bill Belichick is probably livid about Bourne’s impromptu display of excitement. “This isn’t a defense of the rule. It’s an acknowledgement of it,” Florio writes. “And it’s an observation that Belichick undoubtedly has told his players to not do anything that would remotely fall into the category of taunting.”
Now, it’s true the NFL has clamped down on taunting this season, and as a result, players have been penalized for even less egregious acts than gesturing “deuces.” Most memorably, old friend Cassius Marsh was flagged for … staring at the Steelers’ bench earlier this month on “Monday Night Football.”
While taunting has always been against the rules, officials were instructed to place an emphasis on stopping the fun before the season started. The NFL defines taunting as “using baiting or taunting acts or words that may engender ill will between teams.”
It’s hard to fathom how Bourne briefly showing the peace sign as he raced past Titans defenders could’ve spurred ill-will between the two teams, especially considering it happened so quickly. But yes, given the stringent enforcement of the taunting rule, it’s mildly surprising Bourne didn’t get hit with a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
But he wasn’t, and thank goodness for that. The focus should be how Bourne turned a simple crossing route into a touchdown, gaining 29 more yards after the catch than expected, according to NFL Next Gen stats. The designed play had a 0.3% chance of resulting in a touchdown.
Bourne beat the odds with his score and unnoticed hand gesture. NFL viewers should applaud whenever players get away with displaying emotion this season. Instead, Florio and some others are whining.
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