The NFL decided against fining Seattle Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for his hit that knocked Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz from Sunday’s first-round NFC playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.
Clowney was not penalized during the game by the officials, who ruled that the hit was legal. The league reviewed the hit this week and concluded that a fine was not warranted. The NFL could have fined Clowney, even without a penalty being called during the game, if it concluded that the hit was illegal.
Wentz left the game soon after absorbing the first-quarter hit to be examined for a head injury. He did not return to the game under the NFL’s concussion protocol. Veteran backup Josh McCown took over at quarterback and the Eagles did not manage a touchdown while losing, 17-9.
Clowney appeared to hit Wentz helmet to helmet as Wentz was falling to the ground. Wentz then struck his head on the turf.
Referee Shawn Smith told a pool reporter after the game that the officials had ruled the hit legal because Wentz was considered a runner at the time of the hit, did not give himself up and received what was considered incidental helmet contact.
The fact that Wentz was considered a runner at the time of the hit meant that he was not given the protections under the rules afforded to a player considered in a defenseless position (such as a quarterback throwing a pass or a receiver making a catch). Those players cannot be hit in the head.