Preston: The NFL should have sent a message by ejecting Alonso for his hit on Flacco

Late in the second quarter of Thursday night’s game, Miami Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso delivered a blatant and cheap shot to Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco after Flacco slid to finish off a run, and all Alonso received was an unnecessary roughness penalty.

That’s it.


The Dolphins got a 15-yard penalty, Flacco suffered a concussion and the Ravens’ season might be over. It’s a good trade for Alonso and the Dolphins, especially the way Miami was getting kicked around the field, but Alonso should have been tossed out of the game.

His intentions were clear and that was to hurt Flacco. Alonso had plenty of time to slow down and back off, but he led with his forearm and shoulder to the head of Flacco. If that doesn’t result in an automatic ejection, then what does?

It was cheap, late and against the rules, especially since Flacco slid feet-first, which means defensive players can’t hit him because he is considered defenseless.

The NFL has gone out of its way to protect quarterbacks but the penalty on Alonso wasn’t enough. Certainly the Ravens didn’t feel that way, which is why coach John Harbaugh and center Ryan Jensen went looking for Alonso.

You can’t blame them.

The look in Flacco’s eyes seconds after the hit was scary. His left arm popped up almost immediately, which is a sign that he might have been temporarily knocked unconscious. And then he kind of had that blank look on his face that shows he didn’t seem to know what was going on.

A lot of parents have seen that look before and it’s a helpless feeling. When you see it, you get that nervousness in your stomach for your child or any other athlete.

The NFL has made a strong effort to talk about and prevent concussions, but if it wanted to send another message, the officials should have tossed Alonso. As long as nothing is done immediately except for a penalty, defensive players will continue to head-hunt, especially quarterbacks.


Just ask Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict or Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett. Alonso will eventually get fined, but he might not get suspended. So the punishment might not be severe enough.

Even worse is the long-lasting impact this could have on Flacco’s health. Some players recover in a week or two. For others, it might take a month. And in some cases, they never fully recover.

The NFL has gone out of its way to protect helpless quarterbacks in the pocket. There have been times when they are barely touched and it draws a penalty. But Alonso’s shot on Flacco was blatant and egregious.

Because some calls are questionable, coaches have to turn in film to the NFL officials to get a league ruling. But there is not much to decide here. Alonso should be fined and suspended for a game or two.

If Flacco has to miss a couple of games, Alonso should be suspended for the same amount of time. His hit on Flacco was vicious and unnecessary. There were no questions about his intentions.

There should have been no discussion about his removal.