For all of the NFL’s insistence that it takes head injuries seriously, and for all of the new measures intended to ensure that players who might have a concussion will be pulled from games and checked thoroughly, there are still moments that show just how inconsistent any such policing can be.
One example came Sunday, when the back of St. Louis Rams quarterback Case Keenum’s helmet slammed to the ground with a little more than a minute left in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens. Keenum’s hands immediately went toward his head, and he had a tough time trying to get up.
He appeared staggered, yet stayed in the game, obvious as it might have seemed in real time that something was wrong.
On the next play, Keenum threw an incompletion. And on the play after that, he fumbled the ball. The Ravens recovered and were therefore able to kick a tiebreaking field goal for a 16-13 victory.
Afterward, Keenum was not made available to reporters. Why? He was being examined for — wait for it — a concussion.
Just two weeks ago, Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins played more than half of a game with a concussion, something he acknowledged several days later.
These sorts of stories are only likely to get more attention when the movie “Concussion” is released a little more than a month from now.
Of course, those are hardly the only sorts of health issues that crop up week after week. Baltimore’s own QB, Joe Flacco, tore ligaments in his left knee and is done for the season. When he sits out next week, he’ll be the 12th starting quarterback to miss a game because of injury this season, according to STATS.
Ravens running back Justin Forsett also will miss the last six games after breaking his right arm.
In case you missed it, here are the other top topics after the NFL season’s 11th Sunday:
DENVER DEBATE: So now that Brock Osweiler finally got a chance to start a game in the pros, and managed to avoid a turnover while throwing for a couple of TDs in Denver’s 17-15 victory at Chicago, let the debate begin: Will Peyton Manning play again for the Broncos? Will be interesting to see what Bill Belichick dials up for Osweiler next Sunday night, when Denver hosts the New England Patriots.
TDS IN BUNCHES: Used to be that a two- or three-TD day was an impressive showing by an NFL QB. Not by today’s standards. Now it takes four or five scoring passes to get any attention. Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston tied a rookie record by throwing for five touchdowns in a 45-17 victory over Philadelphia. Cam Newton had five, too, to help Carolina get to 10-0 by pounding Washington 44-16. And chiming in with four TD passes was Arizona’s Carson Palmer, in a 34-31 win against Cincinnati.
FIGHT ON: A couple of big losses during disappointing seasons led to some awkward exchanges between teammates. Chargers tight end Antonio Gates jawed at quarterback Philip Rivers on the sideline as San Diego dropped to 2-8 with a 33-3 loss to Kansas City. And Eagles QB Mark Sanchez and running back Darren Sproles yelled at each other after a fourth-quarter interception was returned for a touchdown as Philadelphia fell to 4-6 by getting routed by the Bucs.
ROMO RETURNS: Tony Romo finally made it back from his collarbone injury … and, yes, the Cowboys finally won again. Dallas is 3-0 with Romo, 0-7 without him, after the QB connected with Dez Bryant for their team-record 50th scoring pass and threw for another TD, too, in a 24-14 victory at Miami. Romo hadn’t played since Week 2.
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