Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate tauntingly waves at a St. Louis defender… (Andy Lyons / Getty Images )
Is a taunt worth a touchdown?
The NFL might think so.
Dean Blandino, the league's head of officiating, said on the NFL Network this week that he believes the competition committee will weigh the merits of changing the taunting rules so that an offender might nullify a touchdown with a taunt.
If a player commits a taunting penalty on a touchdown in college football, the score is taken off the board and a 15-yard penalty is enforced from the spot of the taunt. In the pros, taunting is a dead-ball foul, meaning the play counts and the penalty is assessed on the next play.
What precipitated the discussion was the blatant taunt by Seattle Seahawks receiver Golden Tate in Monday's game at St. Louis. Tate scored an 80-yard touchdown and teased Rams defenders as he ran the final 25 yards, mockingly waving at them (and nearly stepping out of bounds in the process).
"The college rule, that's enforced at the spot of the foul, so they'd go from a touchdown to first and 10 at the 40, which would be a gigantic penalty," Blandino said. "The NFL rule, it's a dead-ball foul, it's enforced on the kickoff. But I'm sure that's something that the competition committee will look at in the off-season."
Tate's play was foolish, no question. And Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll was clearly angry with him as he returned to the sideline. But stripping a team of a touchdown in that instance would be far too severe.
It's understandable that the NFL wants to discourage that type of poor sportsmanship, and that what happens on Sunday afternoons invariably shows up on Friday nights in high school games. But a 15-yard penalty is a more-than-ample punishment.
In many instances, taunting is a judgment call, and sometimes it's difficult to determine where legitimate celebrations end and taunting begins. If you want to punish a guy more, fine him, but don't punish the entire team.
By all indications, Tate learned his lesson.
"That was immature of me. Hurt my team," he said. "I've gotta stay composed.... Act like I've been there before. I've got to apologize to our special teams. I put them in an awkward situation, but more happy to get up and learn from it and move forward."
Mystery of Matt
When the Peyton Manning era ended in Indianapolis, the stage was set for the Houston Texans to step into the void and become the dominant team in the AFC South for at least a few years. But who could have predicted the meltdown of Texans quarterback Matt Schaub?
Schaub might not have been an elite quarterback, but he was at least a very good one. The biggest challenge for the Texans was keeping him healthy, and he does have ankle problems. This season, he can't run, can't make the throws he needs to make, and can no longer protect the football.
For the second consecutive week, the Texans will start Case Keenum at quarterback, even though Schaub is healthy enough to play. Schaub has become this season's version of Jake Delhomme, the former Carolina Panthers quarterback who almost overnight went from an asset to a liability.
Teams combined for 5,544 points through eight weeks, the most in NFL history for that period. The previous high was last season's 5,384.
It's clearly a quarterback's league. There were 614 touchdowns, also a record through eight weeks, and 371 of those came through the air, topping the previous midseason record of 356 in 2012.
Anything but greedy
What do the Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons have in common? They're givers, not takers. Houston and Pittsburgh have just five takeaways — the Steelers didn't recover a fumble until last week — and Atlanta has six takeaways, after piling up 31 last season.
The past four weeks were quite a month for the Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson. He averaged 169.7 yards receiving per game in October, the highest in any calendar month in NFL history (minimum three games).
In the past two games, Johnson totaled 484 yards receiving, the most by any player in a two-game span.
Said Lions running back Reggie Bush: "He's the greatest football player, greatest receiver that I've ever played with — that I've ever seen before. I think that pretty much sums it up."