Detroit Lions Defend Kerby Joseph for ‘Clinic Tackle’on Tyler Higbee

Detroit Lions Defend Kerby Joseph for ‘Clinic Tackle’, Finger Point at Matthew Stafford. Photo Credit - Junfu Han - USA Today

Detroit Lions Defend Kerby Joseph for ‘Clinic Tackle’ on Tyler Higbee

In Sunday night’s playoff game at Ford Field, Detroit Lions safety Kerby Joseph made a pivotal defensive play against the Los Angeles Rams that sparked a debate over the nature of tackling in the NFL. Joseph's tackle on Rams tight end Tyler Higbee, which potentially resulted in an ACL injury, has been scrutinized for being either a clean or dirty play. Following the game, Lions players defended Joseph's hit and the finger-pointing at Matthew Stafford that followed.

Detroit Lions Defend Kerby Joseph. Photo Credit - Junfu Han - USA Today

The Play

Kerby Joseph's crucial play involved a low tackle on Higbee following a pass from Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Despite the controversy, Joseph emphasized his intention was solely to make the play and expressed his hopes for Higbee's recovery.

“Seen the ball thrown, just broke on it and then made the tackle, man, and then he coughed it up,” Joseph said. “I’m praying for him, hope he heal up OK. And that’s about it, don’t wanna say too much on that.”

Joseph also posted a message on X (formerly Twitter) after the game.

“ALL SERIOUSNESS…. THIS GAME WE PLAY IS VERY DANGEROUS…. I’m praying for bro and his family I don’t have no intention to hurt no body and or harm their career I been a mf dog since I came out my mama womb and nun of y’all on here gone take that away from me.”

Defending Joseph

Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone defended Joseph's choice of going low, stating that aiming high could have resulted in either a missed play or a penalty for a head hit.

“Honestly, it’s what this league is now,” said Anzalone. “You have to go low, you can’t go high and it’s a clinic tackle, in my opinion. I know they exchanged words after, but there’s nothing else that we can do defensively now. That’s what the league office wants.

“It’s a huge play, obviously. Forced incompletion. And definitely, putting that on film is good to deter offenses from throwing that ball in the future. And that’s on the quarterback to take care of his receivers. That was just a clutch play in the game that ended up helping us win.”

C.J. Gardner-Johnson did not mince words about his opinion on the hit.

“Man, if anybody feel like that sh*t was dirty, bro, if anybody on the Rams feel like it was dirty, then tell his quarterback don’t put the ball in no place where he can get his player hurt, you hear (Tom) Brady say it all the time.”

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TL;DR (too long didn't read)

  1. Kerby Joseph made a controversial low tackle on Tyler Higbee, leading to an injury and sparking debate.
  2. Lions players defend the tackle as the only viable option under current NFL rules.
  3. Responsibility is partially attributed to quarterbacks, like Matthew Stafford, for safe ball placement.

The Bottom Line – A Balancing Act in the NFL

Ultimately, this scenario is indicative of the ongoing challenge in the NFL: balancing aggressive, effective defense with player safety. Joseph's tackle, while controversial, was a byproduct of current NFL rules that restrict high tackles to avoid head injuries. It also highlights the need for quarterbacks to be cognizant of the risks associated with certain throws. As the NFL continues to evolve, finding the equilibrium between player safety and the inherent physicality of football remains a critical and complex task.