Tyreek Hill avoided taunting flag with a muted “deuces” on touchdown catch

The NFL has made taunting a point of emphasis for 2021. It could be called the Tyreek Hill rule, given that it was the often-uncalled instances of the Chiefs receiver baiting opponents with two fingers that caused Bucs defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. to stick the deuces in Hill’s face during the Super Bowl, which may have contributed to the effort to get officials to call the foul more often.

On Sunday, Hill tested the limits of the rule during his 75 yard catch-and-run for a touchdown that cut Cleveland’s margin to two points, 29-27. While running to the end zone, Hill made his trademark gesture and generally flashed his fingers in the direction of Browns safety John Johnson. Hill wasn’t flagged.

Whether he should have been is a different issue. What he was doing was obvious. He muted the gesture, looking around at the officials while doing so, in order to avoid getting caught. It will be interesting to see whether he eventually gets fined; that would essentially become an admission by the league office that he should have been penalized.

Fifteen yards on the ensuing kickoff could have helped the Browns. They otherwise started on their own 25, and a three-and-out effort led to the punting mishap that gave the Chiefs a short field that allowed them to take the lead. At a minimum, the field wouldn’t have been as short for the go-ahead score.