David Butler II/USA Today Sports

Richard Sherman defends Barry Church's hit on Rob Gronkowski

Alex Reimer
January 22, 2018 - 9:03 am

Jaguars safety Barry Church appeared remorseful for concussing Rob Gronkowski Sunday with a helmet-to-helmet hit. But Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman says Church has nothing to apologize for. 

Church rammed into Gronkowski in the second quarter, preventing the Patriots tight end from coming down with a reception over the middle of the field. Up to that point, the Jaguars held Gronkowski to just one catch and 21 yards. He seemed dazed while walking off the field, and Church was flagged for unnecessary roughness, costing Jacksonville 15 yards.

The illegal hit underlies the dilemma defensive backs now face when it comes to bringing down pass-catchers. The only other option for Church in that spot would have been to hit Gronkowski in the knees, which is discouraged as well. Sherman argued that point on Twitter Sunday.

“The hit on Gronk is the only way Church could have done his job without just obliterating Gronks knee,” Sherman wrote. “If he would have just hit him low most ppl would calm him dirty.  So there is nothing he can do to make everyone happy and do his job.  Unless you think he should let him catch (the ball).” 

After the game, Church also acknowledged the difficult reality of playing defense in the NFL these days. 

"I just tried to dislodge the ball," he told reporters. “(Gronkowski) is a big dude and I was just trying to dislodge the ball, but I guess they felt it was too high of a hit. I hope he's healthy. I know he didn't come back, so I hope he's alright. It was a tough call, but you have to go with what they call. It's the toughest play in football. If you go low for the knees you are considered a dirty player and if you go high, they throw the flag at you. It's a bang-bang play and I was just trying to play football. I tried to lead with my shoulder."

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