Originally Posted by dcg
I'm sure the idea was to protect the ball....just didn't look like anyone was close to him.
I get what you guys are saying, but I think a lot of times defensive players in that situation have been coached "err on the side of getting down, protecting the ball, and letting the offense do its thing". How many times has a player -- especially a player whose primary job is not be a ballcarrier -- given up a turnover precisely because they thought or assumed nobody was close to them, and then got stripped or blindsided by someone they failed to see?
Originally Posted by RedLantern
At least from my point of view, I don't look at the Patriots as "cheaters" or a dirty team. They are habitual line steppers, but this stuff seems like it really has a negligible effect on the outcome of games.
What's distinguishes a "line stepper" from a "cheater" in this instance? (Assuming they deliberately doctored the balls with bad intent, etc.)
There are certainly varying degrees of egregiousness, and I'm not suggesting that this on the heavy side of the scale. But habitually violating the rules (again, assuming for the sake of discussion that's an accurate statement) in surreptitious ways in the hopes that you won't get caught, or in the calculus that even if you do get caught occasionally the punishment is worth the risk, seems to fit the definition of "cheater" pretty well. Didn't we all play schoolyard ball with kids like that? Constantly cheating in small ways because they knew that sometimes they'd get away with it, other times the rest of us just wouldn't consider it worth arguing about, and that the chances they'd be totally excluded from playing were virtually nil? And they were right. We'd still invite them to play if we needed an extra guy. But they were still douches, and still cheaters.