With the Patriots facing a fourth-and-2 in the second quarter on Sunday against the Dolphins, New England surprised Miami by lining its offense up on the field to go for it. And then the Dolphins, just when they needed some time to prepare, had a perfectly timed injury.
It was Miami cornerback Bobby McCain who suddenly fell down, causing the officials to call an injury timeout. After a moment, McCain got up and walked off the field appearing to be fine, and he went back in the game after that, although he later left the game with a real injury.
McCain sure looked like he was faking, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick was furious, telling the official on the sideline, “That’s f–king bulls–it.”
Belichick was right to be upset. If teams can get away with faking injuries to get free timeouts, the NFL is going to see a plague of “injuries” every time the defense wants to make a substitution, or slow down a hurry-up offense.
The league has the ability to fine teams and players for fake injuries. In 2012, the NFL fined the Steelers and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders for an obvious fake injury. The NFL might need to crack down even further, perhaps even docking draft picks from teams that fake injuries. It’s a serious violation of the spirit of fair play, and it deserves serious punishment.