Smith favors taking back TDs for taunting

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- If the NFL decided to take away touchdowns for taunting, Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith would be all for it.

The topic surfaced after Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate picked up a taunting penalty during Monday night’s win over the St. Louis Rams. Tate caught a long pass and started waving at the defender at the 25-yard line on his way to the score.

Dean Blandino, the NFL vice president of officiating, explained on NFL Network’s "Total Access"’ how the penalty would have wiped out the touchdown under the college rules. Instead, it was 15-yard, dead-ball foul enforced on the kickoff.

"But I’m sure that’s something that the Competition Committee will look at in the offseason,’’ Blandino said, implying the NFL could consider implementing the college rule.

Smith offered his thoughts on that possibility.

"I know it’s in the college rule, and I think it would eliminate those [taunting] situations,’’ Smith told ESPN.com. "If you take a touchdown off the board, that could be very, very critical in a football game. I would be in favor of it.

"There’s no place for it. After you’ve scored a touchdown, there’s time to celebrate. But until you’ve scored a touchdown, you’ve got to get in that end zone, first. I think there are a number of examples each and every year where guys maybe start doing something too early and lose the football and don’t score.’’

Smith hasn’t encountered such a taunting situation with his players in Atlanta. He did, however, bring up an incident from back in his days as the defensive coordinator in Jacksonville.

"It was actually a guy that I [also] had here in Atlanta: Mike Peterson,’’ Smith said with laugh. "Mike scored a touchdown and I said, `Mike, you can’t do that. Fifteen yards is not worth it.’’

No doubt that was the G-rated version of Smith’s conversation with Peterson.

In terms of the taunting rule, it will be interesting to see if it indeed changes in the future. The NCAA implemented its rule in 2011. Under the rule, the penalty not only negates the touchdown but also penalizes the offending team 15 yards from the spot of the foul.

In Tate’s case, as Blandino explained, the Seahawks would have had the ball first-and-10 from the Rams’ 40 rather than the touchdown.