After looming large in Thursday's Tampa Bay Buccaneers win over the Philadelphia Eagles, taunting made an early appearance in Sunday's NFL slate.
This time, the Detroit Lions got hit with the NFL's most controversial new penalty emphasis. The play occurred in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals. Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye intercepted a Joe Burrow pass and returned it to the Bengals 23-yard line. But the Lions would start their possession on Cincinnati's 38-yard line thanks to a taunting flag drawn here:
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) October 17, 2021
Did you miss it? Here's another angle in case you did.
— Evan Jankens (@KINGoftheKC) October 17, 2021
It wasn't Oruwariye who drew the flag. His secondary mate Tracy Walker III picked it up at the point of the interception. Walker leveled intended receiver Ja'Marr Chase, then stood over him, clapped and flexed.
Last year and anytime prior, this would have likely been overlooked by officials. But not in 2021. Despite widespread criticism of the penalty and its potential impact on the outcome of games, the NFL has no intent of backing off the new emphasis. And a play like this is pretty much asking for a flag at this point.
The Lions didn't score on their ensuing possession that would have started in chip-shot field goal range without the infraction. Jared Goff was sacked on first down and threw an interception on second down. It's obviously impossible to know what would have happened had the Lions started at Cincinnati's 23-yard line. But Wilson's penalty certainly didn't help.