Simon stymied by illegal contact emphasis

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Seahawks would have won 48-7 Friday night over the San Diego Chargers instead of 41-14 if an exciting 103-yard interception return by cornerback Tharold Simon had counted.

Simon’s athletic play, however, was called back when he was flagged for illegal contact, the new point of emphasis this season by the officials.

The Chargers had a second-and-goal at the Seattle 6 when Simon was guarding San Diego receiver Dontrelle Inman in press coverage near the sideline. It appeared that Inman initiated contact by running into Simon, and they remained in contact as Inman went into the end zone.

Simon made an outstanding play to intercept the ball before racing down the sideline for an apparent Seattle TD, but there was a flag back in the end zone because Simon had come in contact with Inman beyond the five-yard limit.

“To be honest, I think it was a very bad call,” Simon said after the game. “I know for a fact I didn’t initiate [contact]. He has one hand on me, but I know there are trying to emphasize that call, so it’s OK with me, for right now.”

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who has been a mentor to Simon during training camp, was furious about the call while watching the play on the sideline.

“Richard came up to me and said it was a bad call and that I had great position,” Simon said. “He said it was a great play.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he talked to the officials about the call.

“The official said that [Simon] had his hands on him seven yards down the field instead of five,” Carroll said. “I’ve got to see it again, but I thought it was a perfectly executed two-hand jam, press, and turn and roll with the ball. It was a great play. We’ll see if it was seven yards down the field. I don’t know. If it was, it was a legit call.”

But Carroll also said he knew some of these calls were coming in the preseason as a warning on how the rule will be interpreted this season.

“Yes, I think it’s pretty obvious,” Carroll said. “I know we talked with the officials during the game, too.’’

As tightly as the rule is being called, it seems to give the receiver a big advantage. At times, it looks like the receiver can simply run into the defender beyond the five-yard limit and get a call for illegal contact on the defense.

Carroll was asked if the league office might be willing to discuss the rule interpretation before the regular season begins.

“They already are,” Carroll said. “I’ve already heard from them. They’re open to the conversation about how it’s going. It doesn’t seem quite right. It seems like there are too many calls being made and too many incidental calls that seem to be affecting the game, so we’ll see.

“It’s obviously different. So the question is, is it better? I don’t know. Hopefully we’ll have a good conversation about it.”