All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams added some fireworks to the San Francisco 49ers' 30-12 win when he got into a shoving match with New York Giants defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson on "Thursday Night Football."
Both players were issued offsetting penalties for unnecessary roughness before the end of the half. But further replay showed Williams seemingly throw a punch into Robinson's facemask, leading fans to wonder why the 35-year-old wasn't ejected.
After the game, NFL senior VP of officiating Walt Anderson was interviewed by Pro Football Writers of America pool reporter Matt Barrows about what went into that decision.
"We couldn't confirm that 100 percent from the standpoint of was it truly a closed fist with a strike, we just couldn't determine that," Anderson said in his final answer.
You can judge for yourself in the video below:
Before getting to the bottom line, Anderson offered some context.
"We ended up looking at the video we had available to us, and we just didn't see anything that rose to the level of flagrant, which is the standard that we have to apply to disqualify the player," Anderson said, citing the NFL's Rule 19.
When Barrows pushed back at the idea that striking someone in the facemask wouldn't warrant a flagrant,
"These are judgment calls and a lot of times you might end up having an open hand, often a stiff arm to the face, versus a closed fist punch, which certainly carries a different weight to it," Anderson said. "You can certainly end up having contact with hands to the helmet, and some of those actions would be deemed a punch, others would not."
Williams, for one, described the strike as "a love tap," and he doesn't expect to be fined.
"It wasn't that hard," he told reporters after the game. "Just mixing it up, man. There are a lot of tempers flaring out there. It's a competitive game, and sometimes things boil over a little bit."
Since he didn't get ejected, the 49ers were able to benefit from the presence of one of the league's top offensive lineman as the team notched a total of 441 yards on offense.