Along with escaping the pocket, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has a knack for avoiding a sack by throwing a short incompletion.
Wilson was called for intentional grounding twice this season, though he was close to another in last week’s playoff victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Early in the third quarter, Wilson rolled to his right outside of the pocket, paused and was chased by Minnesota defensive end Brian Robinson. Robinson wrapped up Wilson and anchored to bring the quarterback down for a sack, but Wilson flicked the ball into the ground near an eligible receiver for an incompletion.
After Carolina’s Week 16 loss to Atlanta, the Panthers asked the league for clarification on the intentional grounding rule, according to two team sources.
Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis came after Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan on a blitz, and Ryan threw the ball into Davis’ lower body with no apparent intended target. Ryan was in the pocket, and the Panthers believed Atlanta should have been penalized but was not.
“The biggest thing is if you’ve got him in your grasp you’ve go tot get to his arm and you’ve got to get to the ball,” Rivera said of Wilson. “You can’t let him do that because there’s a lot of times where he’s flicked it out there and there’s been a guy to catch it. I think that’s where you’ve got to be real specific with what he’s trying to do.
“As long as that ball’s headed in that direction of a wide receiver or an eligible receiver, then there is no penalty.”
Intentional grounding is a rare penalty in the league. It was called just 34 times across the league this season, according to nflpenalties.com. The most any quarterback was called for the penalty this season was three, by Detroit’s Matt Stafford and Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston.
Wilson has been called for intentional grounding eight times in his four-year career. In his five season, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has never been flagged for the foul.