NFL says "words," not shifting, were disconcerting to the snap and caused Bucs penalty on FG
The Bucs were penalized for using 'words,' designed to disconcert the New Orleans Saints at the snap of a field goal attempt that resulted in a critical unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the NFL clarified Monday.
The shifting prior to the snap was legal, the league said.
With the Bucs trailing by a touchdown in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 35-28 loss to New Orleans, Saints place-kicker Garrett Hartley lined up to attempt a 51-yard field goal. Just before the snap, linebacker Mason Foster called for a line shift. The play was whistled dead and the Bucs were penalized 15-yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The Saints went on to complete a 95-yard drive for a touchdown to extend their lead to 14 points.
Bucs coach Greg Schiano had maintained the play, which was used without penalty in a game against the Washington Redskins several weeks ago, was legal.
The NFL agreed with him Monday -- sort of.
While the shift prior to the snap was legal, apparently what Foster said was not.
According to league spokesman Jon Zimmer, "Tampa Bay was penalized yesterday for Unsportsmanlike Conduct for using disconcerting signals, defined as 'words designed to disconcert an offensive team at the snap,' in Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 of the NFL rule book.