Why Was Matt Moore Allowed to Play After Vicious Helmet-to-Helmet Hit?

Why Was Matt Moore Allowed to Play After Vicious Helmet-to-Helmet Hit?
Photo by George Martinez

There was a split second during the Miami Dolphins' embarrassing 30-12 wildcard-playoff-game loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday when it appeared the Fins might still have a chance to pull off an upset. That moment, as well as portions of Matt Moore's upper torso, were quickly destroyed thanks to a vicious — and illegal — second-quarter hit that had just about everyone expecting the worst.

Instead, Moore spent barely 30 seconds on the sideline before jogging back into the game — and seemingly playing through the kind of mental fog that begs the question whether the NFL's concussion protocols have any teeth at all.

Ouch. Following the hit, Moore squirmed in pain on the ground for a prolonged period. Viewers assumed that would be it for him, or at the very least he would be out the rest of the half while Dolphins doctors and NFL neurologists on the sidelines gave him concussion tests. That was not the case. Third-string quarterback T.J. Yates played all of one snap before Moore talked his way back into the game.

That monster hit, though, marked the end of the Dolphins' resurgent season.

Moore was clearly flustered the rest of the game, fumbling in two key situations deep in Pittsburgh territory and throwing an interception. By the time it looked like the cobwebs had finally cleared, there were only garbage-time stats left to tally.

In the end, many have been left asking why Moore was allowed to return to the field so quickly. There was obviously no in-depth concussion test performed despite the visible helmet-to-helmet contact, yet Moore was able to jog back in on the next play.

After the game, however, Dolphins head coach Adam Gase didn't seem to think Moore's return to action 45 seconds after being hit by a car was that big of a deal.

In the grand scheme of things, Moore's health really didn't matter Sunday because he doesn't play defense. The Dolphins gave up two early first-quarter Antonio Brown touchdowns of 50-plus yards, and that was just about that. Every time it seemed as if there was a glimmer of hope for the Fins, a Moore turnover squashed any thoughts of a comeback.

The Dolphins, and their fans, will have to settle for a playoff appearance and nothing more this season. If you had offered that deal to everyone this past October when the Dolphins were 1-4, they would have gladly taken it. Now it's on to mock drafts and free-agency watch.


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